This piece originally appeared in RealClearEducation.
Recent national test results make it undeniable that prolonged school closures during the pandemic were a terrible mistake, resulting in significant learning losses. Now, policymakers face the daunting task of climbing out of the hole we dug for ourselves nearly four years ago. As lawmakers return to Capitol Hill, a new bipartisan bill offers a chance to act on this urgent opportunity and modernize the way that the federal government funds education research and development.
In December, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved the Advancing Research in Education Act, which would authorize and reform the law governing the Department of Education’s R&D programs and data collection. The question now is whether the House Education and Workforce Committee will work on its own reauthorization bill to advance conservative priorities in reforming federal education R&D.
Passed in 2002, the Education Sciences Reform Act established the Institute of Education Sciences as the independent research arm of the Department of Education, in an attempt to improve the value of its R&D efforts. Among its projects has been overseeing national assessments and collecting data about American schools—including the “Nation’s Report Card” data that has revealed schools’ poor performance since the pandemic. Passed soon after the more famous No Child Left Behind Act, the law was intended to spur improvement by focusing more attention on evidence-based practices in American schools.