Mitchell, K. J., Murphy, R. F., Hafter, A., & Shkolnik, J. (2004). Exploring Assignments, Student Work, and Teacher Feedback in Reforming Schools: 2002-03 Data from Washington State.
Leaders at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have dedicated themselves and a substantial portion of their education portfolio to improving American high schools. In particular, they seek to reduce inequities in the educational experiences of historically underserved teens. Foundation officials want to help convert large, troubled high schools into small learning communities where all students excel. Additionally, they want to help create new small schools that replicate promising high school models. Reformers in foundation-supported schools are working to create learning environments that are personalized, authentic, and rigorous; that prompt students to take responsibility for learning, make choices, and do high-quality work; and that are linked to the broader community and real world concerns (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Gates/Grants).
Researchers at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and SRI International are studying these efforts. We are working with foundation officials and reformers across the country to study high school change and what it takes to improve teaching and learning. We are examining the extent to which foundation-supported schools adopt elements of effective schooling and show better, more equitable outcomes for students. We also
are investigating the factors that promote or impede school change and its sustained success.
We are collecting a wide range of quantitative and qualitative data in foundation-supported schools. We are observing classrooms, interviewing teachers and other school leaders, and talking to students about what they do. We also are interviewing school district leaders and staff in the organizations charged with helping schools reform. We are collecting quantitative data through surveys administered to principals, teachers, and
students and we are collecting achievement test data. We are following foundation-supported schools over time and comparing their activities and outcomes to those of conventional high schools nearby.