All the way back in January, I borrowed a page from Melinda Gates’s book and chose a “word for the year” to focus my efforts and intentions. The word I chose was…transformation. By that I meant transform our education systems so that race, ethnicity, and income are no longer predictors of student success.

That intention has indeed been my focus this year — and will continue to be the focus of our U.S. …

Writer and philosopher George Santayana famously said that those who don’t learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. As the economic impacts of COVID-19 on our education systems increasingly come into focus, this axiom should be applied to state budgets for higher education.

Over the past generation, we have seen multiple instances of “boom-bust” cycles of spending impacting colleges and universities: disproportionate cuts in lean times and some investment and recovery in better times. And a number of states have still not recovered from the cuts of the Great Recession. For example, in response to the steep drop…

One of the most enduring myths about young people is that they don’t know what they want to do. In fact, young people often have a much clearer idea of where they want to go in life than they are given credit for. Many of them, however, have run into a new roadblock, in the form of COVID-19.

Since the onset of the pandemic, fewer young people across racial and gender subgroups report feeling very clear about their goals and ideas for their future job or career. In a recent survey of 1,305 youths, ages 15–21, conducted for the Bill…

At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we talk a lot about data. Data allows us to measure things we care about — like how many cases of polio there are in the world this year as opposed to 10 years ago, or what percentage of students are graduating high school prepared for college-level work.

Using data, we don’t just get an accurate picture of what’s happening, we can also begin to understand what’s happening and why. That is critical, because we cannot reliably improve education until we know what programs and interventions work to improve learning and economic outcomes…

Taking a page out of Melinda Gates’s book (figuratively, I mean…but if you haven’t read Melinda’s book, The Moment of Lift, you should), I’ve decided that instead of a resolution for 2020 I’m going to focus on a word for the year. Choosing a word for the year, Melinda says, is “another way to start each year with new resolve.” With that in mind, my word for 2020 is this: transformation.

Now, I’m not talking about personal or lifestyle transformation. I’m talking about the aspiration that drives my work and the work of our team in the United States Program…

Last month at the ExcelinEd National Summit, I joined a panel on the topic of ‘The Future of Education’. To kick off the conversation, we were asked what we think our country’s education system will look like 100 years from now. It was a difficult question to answer, and it got me thinking about the areas where we’re seeing progress in our own work at the Gates Foundation.

In our roughly twenty years of investing in education as a foundation, we’ve seen that the headline-grabbing initiatives aren’t necessarily the ones that get the most promising results. Rather, our experience has…

Last week, the New York Times ran an article looking back on the 10 years since more than 40 states started using the Common Core State Standards as benchmarks for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. The article asked whether — in light of recent disappointing results from U.S. students on both nationwide and international assessments — the standards should be looked at as a success or failure.

Spoiler: I’m firmly in the camp of those who “say it is too soon to judge the program.” …

If you find yourself driving along the southern edge of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, you’re likely to see billboards promoting local colleges or educational partnerships with the word “Contigo.” I don’t remember much of the Spanish I learned in high school, but I do know that “contigo” means “with you” or “side-by-side.” And after my recent visit to the Rio Grande Valley, I can think of no better phrase to capture the spirit and promise of this community.

Over the course of a few days, I saw how business leaders, community organizations, parents, and education leaders are working…

Earlier this week I wrote about a recent trip I took to Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools) to learn more about the how the Gates Foundation’s investments in Baltimore schools were supporting the district’s broader Blueprint for Success. One of the key components of the City Schools’ Blueprint is a focus on improving literacy across grade levels, including the English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum.

Fewer than 1 in 5 Baltimore City Schools students are currently meeting grade-level expectations in English Language Arts. At the same time, feedback from local employers emphasized that strong writing and communications skills were necessary…

After nearly two decades of investing in U.S. education, our team at the Gates Foundation has learned a number of lessons that inform our current work and strategies. One of those lessons can be boiled down into three words: local context matters.

We don’t believe in a one-size-fits all approach to education, and we’ve seen time and again how solutions work best when they apply teachers’ and other school leaders’ local knowledge and experience.

My recent visit to Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools) was a powerful reminder of this lesson. Under the leadership of CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises and…

Allan Golston

President, U.S. Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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