In each of our areas of focus, we share research, insights, and tools with states, school districts, and other partners to help them improve teaching and learning. We also work to foster greater collaboration so effective programs can be expanded and valuable insights and ideas from specific states, districts, and charter management organizations can be broadly shared.
Teachers are vital to student learning. They want to help their students succeed, but often don’t get the feedback and support they need to do so. Fair, thorough evaluations empower teachers to keep learning and growing within the profession by targeting their strengths and areas for improvement. Thousands of teachers and dozens of researchers collaborated on the Measures of Effective Teaching project—a research study that has helped us better understand what great teaching looks like, and the types of measures that can provide a fair assessment of teaching aimed at helping every teacher be their best.
The Measurement of Effective Teaching project enlisted thousands of teachers to have their classes videotaped and evaluated by experts as well as students.
Teachers deserve professional development opportunities that they help shape, give them the support they need when they need it, and enable them to collaborate and share best practices. We’re working with school districts across the country to create more personalized, scalable solutions to teacher learning that can be adopted quickly and broadly. And we’re helping support new leadership opportunities for accomplished teachers without having them leave the classroom.
More than 45 states have adopted the Common Core State Standards for student learning. The standards offer a roadmap of clear expectations for college readiness, deepening what students need to know at each stage of their schooling. We’re working with our partners to help these standards become part of the fabric of schools around the country and will support ongoing efforts to ensure they are understood and implemented effectively.
Classroom materials based on the Common Core State Standards can deepen students’ understanding of key concepts and skills and more fully engage them in their learning. With our partners, we’re working with teachers to design materials that help students work together to tackle problems and promote facility with concepts rather than rote memorization. Teachers know their students best—they need to be at the center of creating and refining curriculum and instructional materials that meet students’ needs.
With clear expectations for what to learn, the measures that gauge students’ understanding must be useful and accurate, to ensure those who graduate from high school are prepared to succeed at the college level. We’re particularly focused on providing students and their teachers with more rapid, useful feedback to inform their learning all along the way. The combination of more transparent and useful data and clearer expectations for students can help educators’ flag young people’s needs early and often, so their path to college and careers is a smooth one.
Students deserve learning experiences tailored to their needs and that make the most of teachers’ time with students. Ninety-five percent of 12- to 17-year-olds already go online on a regular basis. They use social networks, and create and contribute to websites. Our work is focused on taking full advantage of the kinds of tools and technologies that have transformed every other aspect of life to power up and accelerate students’ learning. We need to do things differently, not just better.
We’re investing in a new generation of courseware that adapts in sophisticated ways to students’ learning needs. We’re also supporting game-based learning that generates rich data about students’ progress and challenges them with exactly what they need to learn next.
Online learning tools can allow students to progress at their own pace. (Photo © AZFOTO/Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Blending face-to-face instruction with digital tools allows students to learn independently and at their own pace, freeing up time for teachers to give students more individualized attention and to focus on more complex tasks. Allowing students to progress to new levels of learning as soon as they demonstrate mastery of a topic rather than moving forward based on the number of hours spent in a classroom provides students with customized pathways to achievement, enabling them to be successful every step of the way.