Since 2001, the American Institutes for Research, based in Washington, and SRI International, of Menlo Park, Calif., have been evaluating progress in a sample of Gates-funded schools in four districts. But foundation officials told the two research groups last year that they planned to pull the plug on that study. The foundation intends instead to forge a new study plan centered around building a database to monitor educational performance in every school it supports.
The studies conducted to date have not found dramatic gains in student achievement in the experimental schools. But Tom Vander Ark, the executive director for education initiatives at the Seattle-based philanthropy, said that Gates was not altering its evaluation strategy to “paint a rosier picture” of the results.