Russ Whitehurst is a Senior Fellow in the Center on Children and Families in the Economic Studies program at the Brookings Institution. He is also the Editor of the Evidence Speaks project. Previously, he was director of the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education; U.S. assistant secretary for Educational Research and Improvement; chair of the Department of Psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook; and academic vice-president of the Merrill-Palmer Institute. He received his Ph.D. in experimental child psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1970. He is a widely respected and influential leader in education research and policy in the U.S. and around the world. His specializations include program evaluation, teacher quality, preschools, national and international student assessments, reading instruction, education technology, and education data systems.
As the first director of the Institute of Education Sciences within the U.S. Department of Education, he is widely acknowledged to have had a transforming effect on the quality, relevance, and utilization of education research. Under his leadership, the Institute received numerous accolades, including a citation from the Office of Management and Budget for having, “transformed the quality and rigor of education research within the Department of Education and increased the demand for scientifically based evidence of effectiveness in the education field as a whole.”
Prior to his federal service, he was a highly productive university-based researcher, with over 100 publications, the editorship of a leading scientific journal, and a high impact on other scholars in his field. A program he developed to enhance school readiness in children from low-income families, Dialogic Reading, is widely used in preschools around the world. He was a pioneer in delivering college-level instruction through the internet, for which he was awarded the Microsoft Innovators in Higher Education Award in 1996.
He is an experienced and sought-after speaker. He has appeared on the major network news shows, been interviewed and written about by leading newspapers, given congressional testimony on numerous occasions, and delivered hundreds of speeches and public presentations.
He has had a significant influence of international education policy through his service as head of the U.S. delegation to the Education Policy Committee of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, membership on the Board of Directors of the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, involvement in planning UNESCO literacy conferences, and work on improving teacher quality for the G8-Broader Middle East North Africa Initiative.
He believes that the welfare of the United States and the world depends on every person receiving a good and appropriate education, that education delivery systems should be effective and efficient, and that generating and using better evidence is critical to achieving these goals.