"I think the worst is when you're in a high school, and you get a sense that people just aren't connected," Bill says. "Maintaining order is the main thing that's happening [at large schools]—it's not really about education."
Good schools aren't judged solely on reading, writing and arithmetic anymore—Bill and Melinda's foundation has reinvented the "three Rs."
"It was all about this rigorous curriculum that was relevant to the children's lives so they stayed interested, and they had a relationship with at least one, if not several, adults in the school," Melinda says. "Those were our 'three R's'—rigor, relationships and relevance."
A group of students taking part in a small school experiment say that at their new schools, teachers and administrators know them by name. "There's not enough room [for us] to fall through the cracks," one student says.