Bill Gates endorsed the concept of giving highly effective teachers more students and higher pay at the Winter Meeting of the National Governors Association. Education Week noted that the Gates proposal closely follows the New Millennium Schools proposal that the Goldwater Institute published in 2009.
Fortunately, cutting edge practitioners have leveraged technology to greatly improve upon this idea.
The Carpe Diem charter school in Yuma, Arizona incorporated a blended learning approach. Carpe Diem uses computer based learning to perform much of the blocking and tackling of learning, allowing the teachers to focus on working directly with students to resolve problems. Carpe Diem covers grades 6 through 12 with 240 students and one math teacher. With strong student learning gains and an operational model that allows high-quality teachers to work with more students, reformers from around the country have been making the trek to Yuma to see Carpe Diem.
Blended learning models have the potential to improve learning while decreasing costs. Salman Khan, a former hedge fund analyst, has created an online school known as Khan Academy. Khan Academy has over 2,000 videos sequentially covering topics in mathematics, science and economics/finance. Khan's vision: "the first free, world-class virtual school where anyone can learn anything."
In this video presentation Khan made with Bill Gates at the TED conference, you can learn about how school districts have begun to use Khan Academy to “flip the classroom” by having students watch lectures as homework on Khan Academy, while working on problems in class.
With academic results that leave much to be desired and a state government flirting with bankruptcy, Arizona urgently needs to embrace the future both to improve results and lower costs.
Dr. Matthew Ladner is a senior fellow with the Goldwater Institute.
Goldwater Institute: New Millennium Schools: Delivering Six-Figure Teacher Salaries in Return for Outstanding Student Learning Gains
Education Week: Governors Take the Measure of Gates
TED: Salman Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education