Student Reports

Spring 2017

Professors Douglas Call and Carl DeLorenzo

In Spring 2017, students worked with the Administration for Children and Families, America Achieves, Baltimore Mayor's Office of CitiStat, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Government Accountability Office, The Hilltop Institute, Maryland Governor's Office for Children, Maryland Interagency Council on Homelessness, Mongomery County Up-County Regional Office, Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection, Montgomery County Community Use of Public Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Network for Victim Recovery of D.C., New America, Oxford House, US Department of Education, and the US Department of Health and Human Services. Students performed a wide variety of analyses, including cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, policy analysis, performance measure development, process evaluation, and research synthesis.

The following are projects prepared by students. They are listed in order of clients.

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Local Government

District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education

1. An Evaluation of D.C. Microsoft Imagine Academies. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has been funding the Microsoft Imagine Academies, which give students the opportunity to earn Microsoft Certifications, in D.C. since 2012. Currently, only the Microsoft Office Specialist certification is made available to students but OSSE is considering whether they should expand the program to offer more certifications. This project aimed to address the following two research questions: (1) Should OSSE expand the Microsoft Imagine Academy program to allow students to earn higher levels of Microsoft certifications" and (2) What student-, institution-, and program level barriers exist to diversifying the types of credentials offered and how can OSSE help address those barriers? Surveys were administered to Microsoft Imagine Academy teachers and interviews were conducted with CTE administrators from Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington. This report recommends that OSSE should not expand the program at this time. There are weaknesses in the program, such as lack of annual reporting and low passage rates, that need to be strengthen before expansion. The report recommends that OSSE make a concerted effort to take advantage of the wealth of data available about the program that is collected by CCI Learning to begin making data driven, evidence based decisions to support the improvement of program.

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Baltimore Mayor's Office of CitiStat

2. Public Sector Performance Management and Data Analytics: The Roles of “PerformanceStat” and 311 in Local Government. In many local jurisdictions, innovative performance measurement, performance management and data analytics approaches are used in an effort to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery and enable the government to be more responsive and accountable to its citizens. Two approaches that are often used in partnerships are 311 non-emergency systems and PerformanceStat leadership strategies. The goals of this project, which was focused on the City of Baltimore’s 311 and CitiStat operations, were to produce best practice research on the categorization and use of 311 data for operational awareness and improvements, to produce best practice research on governance models related to system data and standardization, and to develop 311 dashboards for certain activities under the Mayor’s ‘Quality of Life’ pillar by theme or issue rather than by agency.

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County Government

Montgomery County, Up-County Regional Office

3. Civic Engagement in this Digital Age; How to Effectively Engage Millennials and Gen Z. Government at all levels is struggling to “touch” adult constituents ages 35 and under. Most community meetings that are held to present projects and initiatives, to discuss the intricacies of their design and implementation, and to solicit public input on how to make them successful, are attended by those from the “Baby Boomer” generation and older. Important ideas are shared and decisions are influenced by a group residents and business owners who, most likely, will not live long enough or be in a good healthy state in order to reap the benefits of that project or initiative. How do we engage our millennials who don’t think they have to time or who don’t seem as interested in waiting for that project? Is social media the only method of reaching them? How do we use social media to have a give and take dialogue about complex alternative designs for road networks, and options for building design? And, how do we inspire newer generations to apply for government jobs that require patience . . . patience in going through long and frustrating review processes that, currently, ensure accountability in the spending of taxpayers’ money

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Montgomery County, Office of Consumer Protection

4. Revised Performance Measurement Framework for the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection. This project seeks to correct the measurement gap and develop a revised performance measurement framework that will accurately reflect OCP’s scope of work, along with the data collection and tracking needs that will be necessary to support their use. Development of a new measurement framework was guided by the following research questions: 1. What should a new suite of performance measures look like? 2. What is OCP’s capacity for measurement given their current database infrastructure? 3. What data quality concerns will interfere with the validity of measures? In answering these questions, the project work based on a two-part methodology that first analyzed the current state of performance management and second systematically reviewed current measures and developed new ones for potential future use. This work was informed by qualitative and quantitative data collected through interviews, internal and publicly available documents, and administrative data.

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Montgomery County, Community Use of Public Services

5. Use of Social Media for the Montgomery County Office of Community Use of Public Services.

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State Government

The Hilltop Institute

6. Improving Restraint Policy in Home and Community-Based Settings.

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Maryland Governor's Office for Children

7. Prince George’s County – Community Needs Assessment. On behalf of the Children, Youth, and Families Division (CYFD) of Prince George’s County, this assessment evaluates the need for potential programs in the Governor’s four strategic goals of (1) reducing childhood hunger, (2) reducing the impact of incarceration on children, (3) improving the outcomes for disconnected youth, and (4) reducing youth homelessness. Within these four strategic goal areas, this report examines the existing needs within the county, existing resources and county programs, and the extent to which CYFD programs currently serve these strategic goal areas. To the extent possible, this assessment reports on the size, make-up, and distribution of these four populations within Prince George’s County. In addition, it also incorporates community input through interviews with service providers and the Community Needs Assessment Survey, which captures the perspective of both service providers and clients.

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Maryland Interagency Council on Homelessness

8. Barriers to Emergency Shelter Services in Maryland Continuums of Care: A Needs Assessment. In partnership with the Maryland Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH), this needs assessment aims to identify resource gaps for Continuums of Care (CoCs) in Maryland that may determine how people experiencing homelessness with multiple housing barriers are admitted into emergency shelter and how that impacts safety for clients and staff. The report especially considers current practices in relation to qualities of Coordinated Entry (CE) Systems, which seek to create efficient and equitable intake systems into all housing assistance programs and to lower barriers for emergency services. An interim rule published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that all CoCs establish and operate CE systems by January 23, 2018. To explore intake procedures, safety concerns, and barriers to service in Maryland CoCs, this report examines current practices reported in interviews with CoC staff. This needs assessment concludes by evaluating data needed for future assessment and recommendations for the ICH to provide lower barrier emergency shelter services.

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Federal Government

US Government Accountability Office

9. Plate Waste After the Healthy-Hunger-Free Kids Act: Methods of Measurement, Contributing Factors, and promising Practices.In 2010, the Obama administration passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) to provide more nutritious standards for Federal child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. Critics of theact suggest that the stricter nutrition standards lead to an increase in plate waste, or the food thrown away at the end of a meal by an individual. On the other hand, some proponents of the HHFKA argue that food waste levels after the introduction of the stricter standards are equal to those before the legislation was passed. The main purpose of this analysis is to examine existing academic literature for evidence of the impact of the new standards on plate waste in schools, identify the main causes of plate waste in schools, and identify promising practices to reducing plate waste. Background

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10. Minors Employed in Hazardous and Non-Hazardous Agricultural Work: A Needs Assessment. When people think of issues of child labor, rarely does the American agricultural sector come to mind. However, disparities in U.S. child labor laws, as they pertain to agricultural and non-agricultural work, expose agriculturally employed youth to potentially greater abuses and dangers as they are permitted to be employed at younger ages in both hazardous and non- hazardous occupations. While numerous past legislative efforts and expert recommendations have been put forth to amend agricultural child labor laws, as enumerated in the Fair Labor Standards Act, have all been ignored or have failed to be adopted. However, Congress has begun to show renewed interest in the topic, and to have meaningful and informed deliberations, Congress must be fully knowledgeable of the complete size, scope, and severity of the problem.

This project therefore, is a needs assessment that set out to determine what data currently exists on the numbers, trends, and characteristics of minors working in agriculture, what data exists on the well-being and safety of minors employed in hazardous (and non-hazardous) agricultural occupations, and what, if any, gaps in the data exist. Overall, very little data could be found on this population, particularly in regards to the hazardous occupation in which many agricultural youth are employed. However, despite the dearth of accurate and detailed data, what little data that could be found pointed to a need to amend child labor laws as they pertain to agricultural employment.

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11. Education Programs for Incarcerated Youth. In 2014, the Departments of Education and Justice provided federal guidance to be adhered to by the states as it pertains to the quality of education they provide to their incarcerated youth population. The guidance seeks to ensure that all youth who incarcerated receive a high quality education that is comparable to one in which youth in the everyday population receive. Through a two-tier approach, this analysis depicts the needs of the juvenile population as a whole, including the current size, scope and severity of the problem, as well as a case study approach that’s utilized to evaluate the state-level implementation of the guidance within the states of Oregon, Florida and Massachusetts. This approach will facilitate the answering of research questions focused on the educational needs of those currently being held in juvenile facilities, what data is being collected on the outputs and outcomes of youth within the juvenile justice system and the state-level implementation and adherence to the current federal guidance.

Paper Presentation

US Department of Health and Human Services

12. Implementation Evaluation of ASPE’s Early Childhood Peer Learning Action Network Technical Assistance Program (EC PLAN). This project is an implementation evaluation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) Early Childhood Peer Learning Action Network (EC PLAN) technical assistance program. The evaluation aimed to determine if a collaborative technical assistance model improves Promise Zone’s capacity to develop goals along with strategies for tracking and monitoring established goals. The method of evaluation consisted of a series of surveys and informal interviews with program participants. The evaluation found that the technical assistance program was informative for participants, yet the goal for a collaborative peer learning technical assistance was not achieved in full. This report details the evaluation findings and offers recommendation for what elements of this technical assistance model should.

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13. Exploring the Role of Community and Faith-Based Organizations in Refugee Resettlement. The federal refugee resettlement program coordinates assistance and services for refugee newcomers through state administrators and voluntary agencies. While the government provides significant assistance, refugees come to the country facing significant barriers to integration and self-sufficiency. Community and faith-based organizations bridge the gap between federal assistance and full integration, helping refugees develop the skills they need to succeed in the workforce, ensuring they feel welcomed in the community, and supporting a variety of other needs during a trying time of transition. Yet because they are often unaffiliated with official resettlement efforts, the Office of Refugee Resettlement has limited knowledge of the strategies these organizations employ to help serve refugees. To gain a better understanding of the role of community and faith-based organization in refugee resettlement, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation requested case studies of communities that have strong resettlement programs. After conducting interviews and performing research of the organizations in Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, and San Diego, I identified several strengths, weaknesses, and promising practices across groups in these sites. I find that the strongest programs have developed strong organizational connections, offer robust assistance programming, and invest significantly in building and strengthening communities.

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US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families

14. Child Care for Families Experiencing Homelessness: Three Case Studies. This paper explores how recipients of the Early Head Start- Child Care Partnerships grant were able to serve families experiencing homelessness. First, homelessness is explored as both a significant problem for infants and toddlers, and then how wide the scope of this problem is in the United States. Next, a literature review covers previous and current federal child care initiatives that serve families experiencing homelessness, followed by an explanation of the Early Head Start- Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCP). To explore how homeless families were served through EHS-CCP, a case study methodology was used. Three grant recipients in Indiana, North Carolina, and Maryland were evaluated through interviews, document reviews, program data, and direct observation. I find seven elements that are important in serving homeless families and rank each grantee on their strength in each area. I also review overall challenges and successes of these grant recipients in relation to homelessness services, and then provide recommendations for future partnerships through EHS-CCP.

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15. The Effects of the Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge on States’ Early Learning and Development Initiatives. The Race to the Top--Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) is jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. With a focus on high-needs children, the RTT-ELC attempts to improve the quality of early learning and development programs and increase access to high-quality programs for all children. States were awarded funding through a competitive grant process and focused their work along five key areas: successful state systems, high-quality accountable programs, promoting early learning and development outcomes, a great early childhood education workforce, and measuring outcomes and progress.

This evaluation examines the effect of the RTT-ELC on the establishment of successful state systems and states' educator workforce development initiatives. Using both qualitative and quantitative data, this analysis revealed small effects of the RTT-ELC in the these areas on Phase 1 states. The small effects may be attributable to the criteria employed by the federal RTT-ELC team to score states' applications. These criteria appear to have rewarded states with the desired systems in place. As a result Phase 1 states may have limited growth opportunities. Future grant programs should consider scoring criteria that reward states with strong implementation plans but without the desired systems in place.

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Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

16. A Performance Measure Framework for the Cost-Effectiveness of Medicare Provider Outreach and Education Activities. The purpose of this paper to help the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) think about how to develop measurements for the performance and cost effectiveness of Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) provider outreach and education (POE). This paper discusses how these performance measures could be developed, and what kinds of data collection activities would need to be conducted to do so. This paper then goes over examples of performance measures for different kinds of POE activities. Suggested next steps for CMS are to standardize output/outcome data collection across MACs, and work with MACs to identify POE activities for trial performance measurement. After these are in place, CMS may want to consider conducting a formal impact evaluation of POE activities on the CERT error rate.

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17. Identifying Gaps in Marketplace Outreach to Populations with Past Low Enrollment in States with Federally Facilitated Marketplaces. The individual health insurance marketplaces created by the ACA were intended to address the needs of a growing population that does not have access to employer-sponsored health insurance. The purpose of this needs assessment is to identify gaps in CMS outreach in states with a federally facilitated marketplace, focusing particularly on outreach to historically underinsured populations, including racial and ethnic minority groups and the LGBT community. Key recommendations include enhanced data collection on enrollment and the uninsured population, improve targeted outreach to racial and ethnic minority groups, determine causes of consistently low enrollment, invest more outreach resources in areas that have had low enrollment in the past, and make outreach for LGBT individuals more accessible to a diverse population.

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National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)

18. Improving NCHS Data Dissemination

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US Department of Education

19. Postsecondary Pathways of High School Graduates: An Analysis of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems. As state and local education agencies prepare for more comprehensive, federal reporting requirements, policymakers have seen a widespread interest in collecting data on the range of postsecondary pathways high school graduates pursue after graduation. The US Education Department's Office of State Support asked several research questions regarding state implementation of P-20W (early education into the workforce) data systems: 1) Where are states in the process of system implementation, 2) How are states linking information, 3) What postsecondary credentials are states tracking, 4) What are the barriers and facilitators of implementation success, and 5) What are some early findings of postsecondary student success?

This report utilized a blended implementation evaluation and descriptive case study design, which involved a review of existing literature on P-20W systems, as well as a more targeted investigation of six states -- Washington, Arkansas, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, and Texas. Findings suggest that there are notable differences across state systems in terms of each system's ability to facilitate policymakers' comprehensive understandings of student pathways, disaggregated by student characteristics. Washington and Florida are seen as two leaders in system implementation, while Arkansas' system suffers from several barriers to success (e.g., non-existent state legislation, a poor cross-agency data sharing culture, and resource constraints). This report also offers several recommendations for improvement.

Paper Presentation


Oxford House, Inc.

20. A Comparative Outcome Analysis of Recovery Residences. In 2015, 20.8 million people in the US had a substance use disorder (SUD). Recovery from SUDs is possible through sustained abstinence from all substances. A small body of research has shown promising results with regard to the role of recovery residences in providing long-term support in recovery. Recovery residences are sober living environments in which all residents abstain from alcohol and drug use both in- and outside of the residence. This comparative outcome meta-analysis attempts to disentangle which of four recovery residences— Oxford House (OH), Sober Living House (SLH), Halfway House, and Therapeutic Community (TC)—is the most effective and what about that residence makes it more effective than others. Based on existing literature and data availability, effective is defined as undisrupted sobriety 12 months after leaving a recovery residence. Oxford houses were determined the most effective recovery residence; after 12 months’ post-residency, the rate of sustained sobriety for residents of an OH was 82%, for a SLH: 57%, and for a TC: anywhere from 45 – 75%, all compared to a 2 – 12% sobriety rate for those that returned to their prior living situation. Based on the comparison of recovery residence characteristics and their demonstrated effectiveness in previous research, OHs have the highest success rate as a result of the absence of a time limit, self-governing structure, and framework of recovery without relapse. The meta-analysis also considers efficiency; Oxford Houses were found to be the most efficient recovery residence model. OHs are the lowest cost option to residents and do not receive any government funding.

Paper Presentation

America Achieves

21. Impact Evaluation of the Educator Voice Fellowship. In 2014, America Achieves created the Educator Voice Fellowship in Colorado, Michigan and New York to help give education professionals the knowledge and skills they needed to engage in the education policy process. America Achieves encourages fellow to advocate on behalf four broad advocacy areas: higher academic standards, advancing the profession, accountability and assessments, and promoting equity and access. Using America Achieves’ internal data, combined with a series of qualitative interviews, I conducted a summative evaluation of the Educator Voice Fellowship in Colorado, Michigan, and New York. Using this information, I predicted where the Educator Voice Fellowship was most likely to see policy outcomes. I then analyzed America Achieves internal documents tracking the program's potential policy wins, and supplemented this information again with information from qualitative interviews; I identified where the Educator Voice Fellowship had the most influence on various policy outcomes, and where policy outcomes likely occurred regardless of input from Educator Voice Fellowship. I conclude by providing recommendations for how America Achieves can potentially adjust their program model to collect more data to improve future evaluations.  

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New America

22. English Learner Policy: From No Child Left Behind to the Every Student Succeeds Act.

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Network for Victim Recovery of D.C.

23. Analysis and Development of NVRDC Process Measures

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