Doubling the R&D Capacity of the Department of Education

Authors: Kumar Garg, Rujuta Pandit, Dan Correa, & Ulrich Boser


Congress is actively interested in ensuring that the United States is educating the talent needed to maintain our global economic and national security leadership. A number of proposals being considered by Congress focus on putting the National Science Foundation’s Education division on a doubling path over the next 5-7 years.

This memo recommends that the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) — the R&D agency housed within the Department of Education — be put on the similar doubling path with stepladder increases in authorization levels, and targeted program starts (e.g., an “ARPA” housed at ED) focused on major gaps that have been building for years but made even more evident during the pandemic.

This increased funding for IES should be focused on:

• Establishing New Research Capacity in the form of an [1] “ARPA-like” Transformative Research Program;

• Harnessing Data for Impact through investments in [2] Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS), [3] a Learning Observatory, and [4] modernization of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP);

Conducting Pathbreaking Data-Driven Research by [5] building a permanent Data Science Unit within IES, [6] increasing funding for special education research; and [7] investing in digital learning platforms as research infrastructure; and

Building the Education Field for Deployment of What Works by [8] establishing a Center of Learning Excellence for state-level recovery investments in tutoring and more.

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About the Authors

Kumar Garg is Managing Director and Head of Partnerships at Schmidt Futures. In this role, Kumar works to help all major Schmidt Futures programs find successful leverage, as well as helping to run the Technology and Society portfolio. He previously helped shape science and technology policy for the Obama Administration for nearly eight years, serving in a variety of roles in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Garg led the Obama Administration’s efforts to bolster science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, including the Educate to Innovate campaign, with more than $1 billion in in-kind and philanthropic investment; development of major State of the Union initiatives to train 100,000 excellent STEM teachers and bring computer science to all K–12 students; and creation of iconic events such as the White House Science Fair. Prior to his time in government, he worked on behalf of parents and children seeking educational reform as an education lawyer and advocate. He received a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a law degree from Yale Law School.

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Rujuta Pandit is an Intern for the Day One Project. She is a rising sophomore at Dartmouth College pursuing degrees in Engineering Sciences, Public Policy, and International Studies. At Dartmouth, Rujuta has worked with the student consulting group, the humanitarian engineering group, and the undergraduate journal of international affairs, among other ventures. Her research interests include technology, national security, and international affairs.

Daniel Correa is Director of the Day One Project and Acting President of the Federation of American Scientists. He previously directed the Technology and Public Policy Project at Stanford University, and served as Assistant Director for Innovation Policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy where he led development of President Barack Obama’s 2015 innovation strategy. A 15-year veteran of the S&T policy community, he holds law and economics degrees from Yale University.

Ulrich Boser is the founder and CEO of The Learning Agency and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. He also leads the Learning Agency Lab, a nonprofit devoted to scaling the science of learning. In 2017, Boser wrote a book on the science of learning titled Learn Better. The book was featured in many media outlets, including Wired, Slate, Vox, Fast Company, and The Atlantic. Amazon called it simply “the best science book of the year.” Boser’s work has been influential, and his writing and research have appeared in a variety of outlets ranging from “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” to the front page of USA Today. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) drafted a change to federal education law based on Boser’s work. Boser has served as an adviser to many institutions including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Reboot Foundation, and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Boser’s career has also included stints as a reporter, editor, and English language instructor. He graduated from Dartmouth College with honors.