The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative have announced a joint initiative to explore how accelerated research and development might advance transformative solutions for improving education.
The effort will bring together interdisciplinary teams from a variety of fields, including education research, human development research, learning measurement, evidence-based technology-enhanced practice, professional development, and neuroscience, with participating research teams working to produce models, practices, tools, and other resources designed to achieve specific, measurable improvements in student outcomes, both academic and non-academic.
"We know that many ideas and new approaches for improving student learning already exist among universities, schools, curriculum developers, teaching communities, and entrepreneurs," the initiative's overview states. "Learning is complex and requires many ways to support every student and their teachers and families along their path. Our goal is to uncover these ideas and bring the right groups of researchers, developers, and practitioners together to pursue their development and validation."
To that end, Gates and CZI have issued a request for information focused on evidence-based or theory-grounded visions for new pedagogical approaches in three areas: improving writing — developing requisite habits, skills, and strategies; improving mathematical understanding, application, and related mindsets; and measuring and improving executive function. By inviting researchers and practitioners to deepen their understanding of where the most innovative work is being done in those areas, Gates and CZI hope to refine an accelerated R&D strategy to be piloted through a jointly funded program in the future.
"The reason our two philanthropies have decided to join hands in this effort is simple: We believe the scope and importance of this work exceeds what any single organization can or should undertake alone," wrote Jim Shelton, CZI's president for education, and Bob Hughes, the Gates Foundation's director of K–12 education, in a guest post on Fast Company. "There's so much unrealized potential to accelerate student learning, and we hope many others will be inspired to collaborate toward this same goal alongside us."