The Cost to the Nation of Underinvestment in Educational R&D

Over the past thirty years, by many measures, U.S. student educational performance has not improved. Some measures of educational achievement have actually decreased. This development is coupled with a dramatic decline in the productivity of educational spending: As a nation, we spend more and more to obtain the same level of educational achievement. Other industrialized countries do much better than the U.S. when comparing educational performance and the productivity of educational spending. With respect to educational achievement, the position of the U.S. relative to other countries is deteriorating. While the U.S. ranked 22nd among 27 industrialized countries in the 2000 PISA math study, it ranks 24th of 29 countries in the 2003 study.

Despite the decline in educational performance, federal educational research and development (R&D) expenditures are very low. Over time, these educational R&D expenditures have become a smaller and smaller fraction of total R&D expenditures. Educational R&D comprises only 0.01 percent of total R&D expenditures.

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Thomas Stratmann