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American Institutes of Research and SRI International to lead national evaluation of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation education grants

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
206-709-3400
Carol Rava
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Phone: 206.709.3100, Email: media@gatesfoundation.org

SEATTLE -- Two of the nation's leading research institutes will collaborate on a multi-year evaluation of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's education grants. The American Institutes of Research (AIR) and SRI International will combine their expertise to study the impact the foundation's grants have on students, schools and sustainability of reform efforts.

"We intend for our grants to be the most publicly scrutinized educational initiatives," said Tom Vander Ark, Executive Director of education for the foundation. "The data and analysis provided from AIR and SRI's work will ensure that we can provide that kind of transparency."

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $350 million over three years to help support model schools and districts throughout the country, and improved professional development opportunities for teachers, principals and superintendents. The evaluation will study the foundation's grants to schools, districts and networks of schools from Alaska to Rhode Island.

AIR and SRI will focus their work in three areas: the success of efforts of scale; effect on student achievement; and the broader impact of the grants. The researchers will examine how successful were efforts of scale, where and why did they succeed. They will study student achievement data, looking at how it changed across different demographic groups. And they will look beyond the grant-funded schools to see what broader impact the foundation's efforts have had on policy and practice in the education arena.

"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is providing a catalyst to address major challenges facing American secondary education today," said Dr. George Bohrnstedt, Senior Vice President for Research at AIR and principal investigator for the foundation's evaluation. "Results of this evaluation will be instrumental to all of us in the education field."

Dr. Barbara Means, Director of SRI International's Center for Technology in Learning, who will be leading the evaluation in conjunction with Dr. Bohrnstedt added, "Grantees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are engaged in initiatives designed to meet some of the most challenging barriers to quality education today. What we find out about the effectiveness of their programs can impact how our education system moves forward into the 21st century."

The American Institutes for Research (www.air.org) and SRI International (www.sri.com) are independent, nonprofit corporations. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AIR is one of the largest applied behavioral and social science research organizations in the world. SRI's researchers, most located in their Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters, focus in the areas of information and engineering technologies, chemistry and physics, biotechnology, health, and education.

Currently, AIR and SRI are involved in formal evaluations of nearly two dozen national, state, and district level education programs, including ongoing studies of many of the major school reform efforts underway, including Title I, Charter Schools, Magnet Schools, Goals 2000, mathematics and science education reform, technology integration, and class size reduction.

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