Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates are recognized for their altruistic dedication to supporting many causes. Their work extends to international communities, where they focus on health, poverty and hunger. At the national level, one of the many causes they support is education. For the past 15 years, Bill and Melinda Gates have donated millions of dollar to improving education in grade schools, and preparing students for college. Earlier this month, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced their newest academic awards. These new grants will focus on teacher preparation. They will be giving almost $35 million over the next three years to newly established Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says these centers, “will bring together higher education institutions, teacher-preparation providers and K-12 school systems to share data, knowledge and best practices” and “develop, pilot and scale effective teacher-preparation practices to help ensure that more teacher-candidates graduate ready to improve student outcomes in K-12 public schools.”

Each organization selected to represent a Transformation Center will share the same “indicators and outcomes,” but will independently study different approaches within their own unique environment to analyze which teaching methods are most effective. These intensive programs hope to improve teacher preparation, which could improve student outcomes at K-12 public schools. The foundation has awarded grants to the following:

1. Elevate Preparation, Impact Children (EPIC), a new program by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will work with the state’s 71 teacher preparation programs. The Massachusetts Department of Education stated their goals are to, “Deepen the quality of and extend teacher candidates’ training in the field, promote and support data-driven analysis of graduates’ outcomes so that education preparation providers have the information they need for continuous improvement, and integrate the efforts of educator preparation providers and partners to meet the increasing demand for high-quality, diverse educators.”

2. The National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR) will collaborate with more than 30 residency programs to prepare 2,500 new teachers for schools with high needs. The center will also function as a research laboratory for, “identifying, testing,  and   scaling   best practices   for   clinically based  preparation.” This goal of this research is to,
– “Refine  provider  programming  to  be  competency based  and  clinically focused;
– Collect  and  use  implementation  and  impact  data  to  improve  program  design;
– Improve  educator  effectiveness;  and
– Ensure  graduates  are  successful  in their  school  systems  and  communities.”

3. The Relay Graduate School of Education will use their grant to create Teacher2 (TeacherSquared). Led by Dr. Brent Maddin, Teacher2 will gather teacher preparation programs which focus on four themes: “building novice teachers’ competencies, supporting teacher educators, enabling data-driven improvement, and meeting the needs of schools and communities.” Teacher2 plans to work with at least six teacher education programs located among 20 sites, throughout more than 10 states to prepare at least 2,500 new, diverse and effective teachers by 2019.

4. Based out of the University of Michigan School of EducationTeachingWorks is a national organization working towards the improvement of professional teacher preparation. TeachingWorks will provide professional support to staff members of the other national transformation centers. This support will be provided as coaching, workshops and modeling, amongst other resources. This support may also be extended to the teacher educators as needed. The program will also develop and implement teacher preparation program exit assessments. These assessments will gauge a new teachers preparedness, before he or she  independently begins teaching students.

5. The University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation (U.S.PREP) National Center, is based at Texas Tech University and will also receive a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Texas Tech University’s U.S. Prep program will gather six other universities in Texas and neighboring states, to work with local school districts. After three years, the program will spread to more universities. For now, the U.S. PREP program will be led by Katie Button, an associate professor at TTU’s College of Education, along with Sarah Beal, who once worked at TeachAZ program at Arizona State University.

The Bill and Melinda Gates have constantly donated to change in public education. Though their efforts have been met with many challenges, the Foundation is persistent with their dedication to the improvement of public education.

To learn more about the Gates’ Foundation Awards to Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers, click here.

To read more about the EPIC program, click here.

To read more about NCTR, click here.

To read more about Teacher 2, click here.

To read more about TeachingWorks, click here.

To read more about U.S. PREP, click here.