Carnegie, Gates, Hewlett Foundations Unite to Tackle Roadblocks to Student Success
June 3, 2009 — The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced a $2.5 million investment to identify promising strategies to dramatically improve college success rates, especially among those students least prepared for college-level work.
Today, close to 60 percent of young people who enroll in community colleges have to take at least one developmental course before earning college credit. For too many students, their postsecondary education stops there: that first class is the last class they will take in a community college. The situation for young people enrolled in developmental math courses is especially dire.
These three prominent foundations have joined forces to invest in research that develops effective solutions to ensure those who are least prepared are much more likely to graduate. Researchers will then quickly test these innovative solutions in schools and other learning contexts, and then rapidly refine their findings. Improving the success rates of community college students in developmental math is the first problem the project will tackle with this joint funding. Carnegie will lead the implementation of this investment.
“The needs for improvement in our educational systems are vast,” said Carnegie President Anthony S. Bryk. “We cannot approach the ambitious goals we hold for schooling without a much more vital research and development infrastructure than we now have.”
The initiative will also explore how open educational resources – the international movement to freely share high-quality educational materials over the World Wide Web – and the research data can work together to improve education. The research will demand the use of robust technology to ensure that the information can be being reliably shared in diverse contexts and situations. Catherine M. Casserly, who directed the Open Education Resources efforts at Hewlett, has joined Carnegie as a senior partner in this new work.
“Over the years, the Hewlett Foundation has sought to equalize access to education by sponsoring the development of high quality content offered on the Web, worked to remove barriers to the use of the content and conducted research to understand and stimulate its use,” said Hewlett President Paul Brest. “This new partnership will continue that work with powerful improvements in teaching and learning as our objective.”
“Improving the postsecondary success rates of all students, and especially low-income students, is critical to increasing opportunity, for individuals and for our country,” said Hilary Pennington, Director of U.S. Special Initiatives at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “By tackling some of education’s most pressing challenges, this new network of world-class academic researchers will give community college leaders the roadmap they need to ensure better outcomes for all students.”