Three school districts and a coalition of charter schools have agreed to be test kitchens for some radical ideas for improving teacher quality -- from paying new teachers to spend another year practicing before getting their own class to letting student test scores affect teacher pay.

In exchange, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is handing them the biggest pile of cash it has spent on education reform in about a decade.

The foundation announced $290 million in grants to the four groups on Nov. 19, plus another $45 million for education research aimed at uncovering what, exactly, makes an effective teacher.


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