K-12 Momentum: April 2023

ASU-GSV Summit 2023: Bill Gates speaking wtih Jessie Woolley-Wilson
Jessie Woolley-Wilson and Bill Gates speaking at the ASU+GSV Summit in San Diego.

Dear friends,

I’ve been thinking a lot about Rip Van Winkle recently – the Catskill farmer who fell asleep for twenty years and slept through the American Revolution! Why my sudden detour into Washington Irving’s story, a distant middle school memory?

I’m probably reacting to the ASU-GSV summit last week in San Diego – an extraordinary conclave of educators and tech investors. I was especially interested in the conversations I heard taking stock of the rapid progress of AI in education. Among a mind-blowing set of conversations, Bill Gates spoke with Jessie Woolley-Wilson, CEO of DreamBox Learning (video here!) about his own mathematical life journey (it is Math Awareness month, after all), but also focused on technology and AI. Read more in The 74’s Kevin Mahnken interview. His comments were echoed by many, including Ethan Mollick, Sal Khan and others.

Of course, parents and teachers have long shared a desire for change in mathematics. With the support of the foundation, the Global Strategy Group released new research last week which shows that parents, teachers, and the general public believe that math is the school subject most in need of updating. Parents and teachers want reform to focus on making math more engaging and relevant for students. See here. And we completely agree.

We are potentially entering a new era of change in education and society that rivals the disruptions wrought by the printing press, the light bulb and the internet. But some things will be constant, including how we get the balance between educators and technology right. Both are essential to learning. In an early search for an answer, many of my Gates colleagues stayed in San Diego to attend the 10th annual Carnegie Summit on Improvement in Education. Continuous improvement principles apply to emerging tech – AI tools must be selected thoughtfully, tested and improved upon by educators, product developers and students themselves to raise student achievement – key strategies we are seeing in our Networks for School Improvement portfolio.

Here is a wonderful starting point for every teacher to engage in AI Continuous Improvement with Chat GPT in their classrooms. Take a look, test these out, and let us know how it goes. What will the future hold? I can’t say for sure. No one can. Of this I’m certain – now is no time to take a nap!

In partnership,


Bob Hughes

Bob Hughes
Director, K-12 Education

Quick Takes

New Research Shows Demand for Improving Math Education

“Making math more relevant and relatable for students of all backgrounds will make them more interested in what they are learning and therefore more likely to do well in math. If students are able to connect to and see themselves in what they are learning in math class, they are more likely to succeed.” This is one of many takeaways from the new research out this month from the Global Strategy Group and supported by the foundation. You can read more here.

New Campaign Encourages Families to Leverage Summer Learning

Learning Heroes, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the National Summer Learning Association's new Go Beyond Grades campaign aims to help families look beyond their children’s report cards and team up with educators to deepen children’s learning this summer. By showcasing new data comparing parent perceptions of students’ grade-level achievement with statewide assessment results on billboards and digital screens in six locations across the country, the campaign encourages parents to connect with teachers and helps families enroll their children in summer learning opportunities. Read more here.

What We're Reading

Statewide Study Finds DreamBox Learning Improved Math Achievement

It Should Be Easy for Black Teens to Take College Classes

Case Studies: 6 Principles for Using Student-Powered Improvement in Your School