'This Week': Bill Gates on Education

George Stephanopoulos goes one-on-one with billionaire Bill Gates on Common Core education standards.
3:00 | 03/16/14

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Transcript for 'This Week': Bill Gates on Education
We're excited about a new plan for higher standards called the common core. Common core a about learning to apply knowledge and critical thinking. Not just testing rote memorization. The new standards will be challenging. But students will learn more. That's a new ad being watched by big business groups supporting the common core. Controversial education reform, requiring more rigorous teaching in math and language. And as the new standards take old, they're also taking fire. America's biggest backer of the core, bill Gates, met with me Friday, to fire back. Did you know you were going to disturb such a hornet's nest? I think it's such an exciting thing to have high standards. To have quality standards and have consistent standards. I'm thrilled this is moving forward. And disappointment, through confusion and various groups, its implementation is at risk in some states. Reporter: The opposition is fierce. This is the Progressive movement coming in for the kill. Reporter: Supporters, forceful, too. To want to condemn our kids to a life where they can't compete, it's sick. Reporter: With bipartisan backing from Barack Obama to Jeb bush, the common core standards were adopted in 45 states. But many of those states are looking to delay or do away with the core, under direct correlation of teachers groups, and the tea party. You have a conservative element who says this is federal control over education. What do you say to that? The common core is not a curriculum. It doesn't tell you how to teach. It's not a federal takeover. Nobody's pushing for that. Reporter: Tea party is convinced it is. But then, we need to get the facts out. If they want the congress to pass a bill saying, don't ever tell us what to do, that's fine. Reporter: You have the head of the nea, saying the rollout's been completely botched. Randi Weingarten saying, the rollout of healthcare.gov is nothing compared to the rollout of common core. Your supporters are saying it's not working the way it's supposed to way. The rollout is state-by-state. This is local stuff. And in some locations, they have a legitimate point. That's a very different question than saying we shouldn't move towards the common core. Reporter: Take New York. Legislatorthere are calling for a two-year moratorium on the core, after test scores tanked. Only, one-third of students passed. That created horror in a lot of parents. Right. When you have a task, you can bridge from the old test to the new test and set a cup level that matches. And be able to compare this group of students to previous students. Reporter: Fix it for that group. You don't have a big drop. When we go to higher standards, there is a transition where you'll see that the way we've been teaching math is not good enough. So, to meet the high standards, we need to do it in a smarter way. Reporter: And Gates argues, that's what common core does. Allowing students to catch up to the competition in China, south Korea and Japan. The textbooks are a lot smaller. They teach you less per grade. But make sure you really understand it. We have gigantic textbooks. You're getting shallow knowledge on a regular basis of too many concepts. Reporter: But the Indiana senator says he will find a bill to scrap common core. Other states are heading in that direction, too. But Gates believe that most will keep the new standards. If this kicks in. If you can overcome this initial opposition, get common core working across the country, where do you expect us to be in ten years? In 20 years? Ten years from now, kids' competence in math, kids' scores in math, can be improved a lot. You feel like, yes, I get this. I'm not discouraged. It is so important. And these standards are the foundation for that. I think this is going to be a big win for education. And you can see more of our interview at abcnews.com/thisweek.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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