Matt Williams

About Matt Williams

Matt Williams is Vice President of National Advocacy and Partnerships for KnowledgeWorks Foundation. In this role, he is responsible for directing both federal and state relations on behalf of the Foundation. Matt assists the various divisions, subsidiaries, and major investments of KnowledgeWorks in building and maintaining relationships to advance their initiatives and also assists in advancing policy priorities for the Foundation.

Getting Unstuck From the Pilot Phase

Last week, Chester Finn, Jr. wrote a piece in Education Next, titled “Education’s Endless, Erroneous Either-Ors” (nice assonance). The piece calls out various familiar edu-dichotomies, such as “skills vs. knowledge;” “evaluate teachers by student results or peer judgments;” and “local Continue reading


With Sprinkles Please

Matt Williams writes about why the latest Race to the Top iteration adds to an increasingly disjointed education policy agenda. By attempting to tackle a plethora of educational issues with relatively small amounts of money has the obsession with RTTT left us with little of substance? Continue reading


On Progress and Proficiency – A New Report on Redesigning Grading for Competency Education

This week CompetencyWorks released a new report, titled Progress and Proficiency: Redesigning Grading for Competency Education, focused on helping education leaders think through the grading principles and policies to help communicate academic performance to students and parents. As more states, districts, and schools move towards competency education it is essential to rethink not only how we grade students but how we communicate grades. Continue reading


Not So Fast, My Friend

Late last week and into the weekend I was at the CCSSO annual policy forum in Richmond, VA. On Friday morning the keynote speaker was former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew he was a Republican, social conservative, former governor presidential candidate, and FOX talk show host, but what would he actually say about education? I knew he was an advocate for the Common Core just as former Republican governors Jeb Bush and Mitch Daniels are. But beyond that what would he say?
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Not Another New Program: Just Go Back to High School

Last week First Lady Michelle Obama announced that she will be focusing on increasing college access, matriculation, and graduation. In this new venture, Mrs. Obama will work with the Department of Education to help further the President’s initiative to vault the United States’ percentage of college graduates from 12th to first in the world by 2020. This is an incredibly important and laudable goal. One that is essential, in many ways, to the very existence of our republic. We know that higher college graduation rates impact the economy, reduce poverty (particularly generational poverty), reduce crime, strengthen national security, and, of course, expand the critically important equity agenda. Continue reading


ESEA Waiver Renewal

In late August, the U. S. Department of Education released its guidance for ESEA Waiver Renewal. As many pundits have noted, Secretary Duncan attached more strings to states earning renewal of their waiver. As it stands, to get a two-year extension of their waivers, states must reaffirm their commitment to college and career ready standards, esea-flex3assessments aligned to those standards, and to the implementation of their designed and submitted system of differentiated accountability (with an expressed focus on closing achievement gaps). This is all expected fare, to be honest, both the focus and the new strings. Currently 41 states have waivers. The bulk of those (35) were granted in Rounds 1 and 2 of the waiver process and these states will be the first to run through the new drills to get their renewals. Continue reading


Common Core: High Standards are Not Inappropriate, They Are Essential

This is the perfect argument for why high standards are not inappropriate but essential. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s not right or needed or vital. As a species we have always tackled what is hard. We came out of the cave, harnessed fire, built the wheel, created art, designed architecture, and went to the moon. It is who we are. We crave what is difficult and what propels us forward. I’m not comparing the Common Core to fire or to the moon shoot. But it is what is next for education. How can we grow economically as a nation if we don’t educate our students against high standards? How can we be okay with our college students spending PELL grants, loans, and hard earned money on courses that don’t count towards graduation? How can we look our children in the eyes and lie to them at graduations across this country by telling them they are now ready to tackle the challenges before them? It may be hard. It may be a big lift. But it is absolutely essential because I’m not going to look my three kids in the eyes and lie to them. Continue reading


Feeder Patterns Can Reduce School Closures

Addressing feeder patterns or aligning “teaching and learning and socio-emotional connections between elementary, middle, and high schools through aligned, targeted system of supports and interventions” will improve student achievement. Continue reading