More Evidence of CBE Failure: Lake County Considering Stopping ProgramMarch, 2017
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
As with other Bill Gates Foundation boondoggles, the personalized or competency based learning grant program we warned against last year may not be funded by Lake County now that the three years of grant funding has almost run out. As the Daily Commercial describes it, there are inconsistent test scores for the very high cost of $2.5 million per year:
The latest data on the new learning method released in 2016 compared Florida Standard Assessment scores and FCAT science scores for students in personalized-learning classes in third through 10th grades with those enrolled in traditional classes.
In some personalized-learning classes, the test scores far exceeded the district average, but in others, the proficiency level was below the school and district average.
Personalized learning, which gives students a voice and choice in the learning process, was funded for the past three years from a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The School Board must now decide whether to continue funding it to the tune of $2.5 million a year because almost all the grant funding has been spent.
The Lake County Superintendent and several school board members all have significant and justifiable doubts about the program's viability:
"I want to evaluate every program, including personalized learning to ensure we are getting the best return on our investment," she [Superintendent Diane Kornegay] said. "Learning should be personalized. I need to take the time to evaluate and look to see whether it is working or not working. We don't want to invest in something until we know it's meeting the needs of all kids..."
He said there are many high-performing school districts that have excellent teaching practices without investing millions of dollars in a specific personalized-learning program.
"Even if we are not investing in a program called personalized learning, we are still going to be investing in professional development for our teachers," Dodd said. "We have seen some mixed results, and that is where there is apprehension from the board."
School Board member Kristi Burns also had reservations about funding the program.
"I think we need to allocate that money to support all of our teachers so they can teach in the best way they can," Burns said. "The techniques of personalized learning are not new. We want to support good teaching practices throughout the county."
School Board member Bill Mathias said if the intent of the grant was to create an environment where students took ownership of their learning, the district does not need the program to accomplish that.
Gates grants have been a major failure in other areas of education:
- Bill Gates admitted in May of 2016 that despite spending millions of dollars on education technology, such as in personalized/competency-based learning, "we really haven't changed [students' academic] outcomes."
- Despite falling NAEP math, reading and college readiness scores, complaints from college professors about student unpreparedness, and many other problems since Common Core was implemented, Gates has refused to admit reality and thinks any problems were due to a "missed...early opportunity to engage educators -- especially teachers -- but also parents and communities so that the benefits of the standards could take flight from the beginning."
- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also gave $100 million to Hillsborough County to reform teacher evaluation and pay with the county required to bring in additional $100 million, but the county's cost rose to $124 million and the program is being dismantled after largely failing.
- Los Angeles wasted $1.3 billion on iPads for every student that were to be loaded with Common Core software that was a Gates-Pearson joint effort that were utterly unusable and resulted in FBI investigations for bid rigging.
- Before moving into the Race to the Top and Common Core effort, the Gates Smaller Learning Community program, upon which the foundation spent $2 billion in an effort to track children into specific types of jobs-based education as early as 8th grade, was also a failure.
The Florida Legislature's decision to limit the pilot to four school districts was wise given these very predictable results. Let us hope they do not attempt to make the pilot statewide as proposed by Senator Jeff Brandes.