At a glance
- We support efforts to collect and expand access to student data—in secure and deidentified ways—so schools and policymakers can serve all students more effectively and reduce disparities in outcomes by race, ethnicity, and income.
- We support the development of strong, aligned data systems at the state level that will serve as exemplars for other states.
- We support efforts by researchers and developers to create better, more evidence-based digital learning tools.
Better data and evidence can help identify disparities in student success by race, ethnicity, and income and strengthen efforts to eliminate those disparities while also protecting student privacy and security. We support efforts to improve educational and workforce data systems so those systems count all students and their educational outcomes—and so educators and policymakers can implement evidence-based practices that support more equitable outcomes. Students and their families can also benefit more directly by having access to data that help them make informed choices, especially as they navigate the transition from high school to postsecondary education, where most of them will take on debt.
Visit our U.S. Program website
The foundation's U.S. Program works to ensure that everyone in the U.S. can learn, grow, and get ahead, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or family income. We work with local leaders and engage with state and federal policymakers to support efforts that transform schools, systems, and society to create life-changing opportunities for learning, growth, and prosperity.
Areas of focus
To help all students navigate through postsecondary education and into the workforce, we need comprehensive, accurate information on student pathways, transition points, and outcomes. To that end, we invest in national and multistate data systems that provide readily accessible, disaggregated information in secure and deidentified ways. We aim to scale them up into longitudinal systems that show postsecondary and workforce pathways and outcomes across sectors and states. These systems can help high schools better prepare students for postsecondary success, help college administrators better align program offerings with workforce needs, and help students and families understand the return on their investment in postsecondary education.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need for better state data systems to support learners and workers. Effective state data systems, like national systems, should be longitudinal—providing information on pathways that extend from early learning to the workforce. They should also provide real-time data to help students make decisions about their education and career and empower workers to access benefits and training programs. We are helping a cohort of states develop exemplar data systems that employ robust security and privacy safeguards, and we are investing in tools that will enable other states to learn from these exemplar systems.
New digital learning tools can provide educators, researchers, families, and students with more and richer information about the educational experience and can help teachers better support students—all in real time. We focus on removing barriers to providing access to these data in secure and deidentified ways, in order to aid researchers and developers in creating even better digital learning tools.
Every student counts
Our education system faces significant challenges in collecting, reporting, and using key data about student progress and outcomes, from early learning through K-12 and postsecondary education and into the workforce. These challenges hamper efforts to serve all students well, especially students of color and students from low-income backgrounds, whose outcomes are obscured when data are not disaggregated by race, income, and other key factors. They also prevent us from better understanding what is working to improve outcomes and why.
States and the federal government have made progress toward better connecting education and workforce data systems to count all students and their outcomes, so schools and institutions can use data to drive better and more equitable outcomes while protecting privacy and security. But critical gaps remain.
We want educators and policymakers to be empowered with the information they need to implement evidence-based practices that will support more equitable student outcomes. Students and their families should also have access to information, to help them make informed choices, especially as they navigate the transition from high school to postsecondary education, where most students will take on debt that impacts their futures. All students and families deserve to understand the return on their investment of time and resources.
We support the development of strong, aligned data systems at the national, state, and local levels that will serve as exemplars and support more equitable educational outcomes. We also support efforts and tools that use data to identify ways to serve all students more effectively and eliminate disparities in student success by race, ethnicity, and income.
The K-12 Education team supports educators and public schools in improving educational outcomes for Black and Latino students and students experiencing poverty.
The Economic Mobility and Opportunity team works to help the U.S. economic system better meet the needs of those experiencing poverty and significantly increase their opportunities to achieve economic success.
The Pathways team supports efforts to ensure that Black and Latino students and students from experiencing poverty can access at every stage the skills development, support, and relationships necessary to thrive in education and the workforce.
The Washington State team works with partners to ensure equitable opportunities for children and families in Washington, where the Gates family has lived for generations.