Student Reports

Spring 2021

Professors Douglas Besharov, Douglas Call, and Carl DeLorenzo


In Spring 2021, students worked with the Frederick County Department of Housing and Community Development, the Howard County Department of Housing & Community Development, the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the Montgomery County Department of Recreation, the Howard County Department of Health’s Bureau of Behavioral Health, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Maryland Department of Disabilities, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child Care, Judge Alexander Williams Jr Center for Education, Justice, and Ethics at the University of Maryland, and the New America Foundation. Students performed a wide variety of analyses, including needs assessment, performance measure development, policy analysis, process evaluation, and program design assessment.

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

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County Government

Frederick County Department of Housing and Community Development

1. Evictions in Frederick County: Policy Analysis. This report analyzes eviction data compiled in Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Annual Reports from 2010 to 2018 and Maryland Judiciary records from FY2010 to FY2020 to determine the scope and severity of evictions in Frederick County. Frederick County has an estimated eviction filing rate of 48.1 percent and eviction rate of 0.77 percent. It is likely that the estimated eviction rate is undercounted because of the prevalence of informal evictions in which tenants vacate the rental property before the actual eviction is carried out. Analysis of Maryland Judiciary records indicates an estimated tenant default rate of 90 percent from 2010-2019, which means that a significant number of tenants fail to appear for their eviction cases and thus, judgement in favor of the landlord is granted by default.

Paper Presentation

Howard County Department of Housing & Community Development

2. Cost-Benefit Analysis of Howard County Housing Opportunities Master Plan Land Use, Planning and Zoning. The report first analyzes the rationale for the project in terms of the demographic and housing market characteristics of Howard County. After identifying these categories, this report calculates the net present value (NPV) of the project from three perspectives: government, developer, and community, and discusses the policy implications from the calculation results. This report also tests the risk resilience of the project to changes in assumptions by varying the assumptions within a certain range and recalculating the NPVs from each perspective on that basis. Finally, the report analyzes and discusses the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the project and provide recommendations accordingly by reviewing information about the impact of COVID-19 on similar programs in other countries and regions, and calculating and analyzing Howard County's existing responses for addressing COVID-19.

Paper Presentation

Howard County Department of Health’s Bureau of Behavioral Health

3.  Performance Measures Evaluation of the Local Behavioral Health Advisory Board’s Strategic Planning Initiative. This paper provides an in depth analysis of the equity and cost recovery strategies used by recreation departments across the country. The goal of analyzing these strategies is to determine which strategies successfully balance the needs of cost recovery and equity. Finding a successful balance between cost recovery and equity is a key goal as without cost recovery programs cannot be funded which makes improving equity difficult. In doing so the paper aims to find the best practices across the country that could be feasibly implemented by Montgomery County. Specially, this paper will examine the five common themes that are present in communities with successful equity and cost recovery strategies. To do so the paper will examine policies implemented in similar jurisdictions and analyze academic research. In doing all of this, the paper will be able to identify the role that these themes play and allow for adaption of these strategies in Montgomery County. The research conducted for this paper leads to the conclusion that there are many ways that the county can improve the level of equity provided. One of the most prominent conclusions is the importance of minority outreach to improving equality.

Paper Presentation

Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs Montgomery County

4. MPDU Expansion: A Case Study Feasibility Evaluation An Examination of Montgomery County Inclusionary Zoning Policies. This report is an examination of how an expansion of the MPDU program would impact low-income and cost burdened county residents that currently face a shortage of affordable housing. I address the origins and specifics of that proposal in my Findings section. I started by conducting the policy analysis in the section to better understand the MPDU program and similar ones around the country. I read all the relevant literature I could find. I then conducted informational interviews with experts from the DHCA, Montgomery County Planning Department, nonprofit activists, and private developers to better understand the intricacies of the program and current trends.

Paper Presentation

Montgomery County Department of Recreation

5.  Improving Equity and Cost Recovery Practices Within Montgomery County. This paper provides an in depth analysis of the equity and cost recovery strategies used by recreation departments across the country. The goal of analyzing these strategies is to determine which strategies successfully balance the needs of cost recovery and equity. Finding a successful balance between cost recovery and equity is a key goal as without cost recovery programs cannot be funded which makes improving equity difficult. In doing so the paper aims to find the best practices across the country that could be feasibly implemented by Montgomery County. Specially, this paper will examine the five common themes that are present in communities with successful equity and cost recovery strategies. To do so the paper will examine policies implemented in similar jurisdictions and analyze academic research. In doing all of this, the paper will be able to identify the role that these themes play and allow for adaption of these strategies in Montgomery County. The research conducted for this paper leads to the conclusion that there are many ways that the county can improve the level of equity provided. One of the most prominent conclusions is the importance of minority outreach to improving equality.

Paper Presentation

State Government

Maryland Department of Disabilities

6.  Improving Affordable Housing Access for People with Disabilities in Maryland. This paper examines current funding and policies to support affordable housing for people with disabilities in Maryland. The Maryland Department of Disabilities oversees several programs that provide affordable housing as well as other important services for Marylanders with disabilities. Although there are many people assisted by these programs, there is still a need for additional funding and resources to provide everyone with a disability who is in need with safe, affordable, quality housing. There are several reasons such extensive need persists, including insufficient affordable housing units, housing discrimination, declining federal housing assistance, and inaccessibility of available units for people with disabilities. Although federal funding has been declining, President Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill allocates $213 billion to affordable housing efforts. If the bill passes, the state of Maryland can anticipate receiving a substantial increase in federal funding for housing; however, it is unclear how much of this funding will directly benefit people with disabilities. Due to the uncertainty of federal funding, a combination of other strategies would likely have a more reliable impact on housing affordability for Marylanders with disabilities.

Paper Presentation

Federal Government

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI/The Innovation Center)

7. Implementation Evaluation of Benefit Enhancements for Alternative Payment Models. The purpose of this paper is to help the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI/The Innovation Center) assess the challenges, barriers, and best practices for Benefit Enhancement (BE) implementation for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) participating in the Innovation Center’s Alternative Payment Models (APMs). This paper discusses findings from implementation plans, quantitative data analyses, and interviews with ACOs. Recommendations for future BE implementation for the 3-Day Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Waiver and Post-Discharge Home Visit Waiver (PDHV) include compiling and using existing data more effectively, encouraging collaborative efforts amongst ACOs, and allowing ACOs more flexibility in adding SNFs for participation in the SNF Waiver.

Paper Presentation

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child Care

8. Case Study: Comparing Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Across the United States. Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) is an effective evidence-based approach to improving the skills of adult caregivers in order to facilitate positive and long-lasting effects on children’s social and emotional development. Due to its impact and demonstrated ability to decrease the number of early childhood suspensions and expulsions, the IECMHC field has grown significantly over the past decade, with currently existing programs in most United States. IECMHC staff are passionate and motivated individuals, set on improving outcomes for our nation’s children by reaching them at young ages, the most influential time in human development. However, passion and motivation are not sufficient drivers of success when programs lack the resources and support to reach their full potential.

Paper Presentation

9. Impact of COVID-19 On School Age Child Care.

Presentation

U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development

10. Opportunity Zones: Case Study & Research Design. This research adds to the growing literature regarding the effects that OZs have on local economic development. This research found that, at least anecdotally, it does not appear that the OZ initiative is the economic panacea for undercapitalized communities that some policy experts and local communities thought it would be. Furthermore, this research found that neighborhood-level community development corporations may have difficulty accessing investment funding, limiting the ability for true community-level economic development.

Paper Presentation

11. Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968: Evaluation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 3 Performance Measures. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Affordable Housing Research and Technology Division wanted to know more about the HUD Section 3 and whether the current Section 3 performance measures were effectively assessing Section 3. This report seeks to propose new or revised performance measures that HUD can use as benchmarks for assessing Section 3 impacts. In addition, this report analyzes the Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) in Chicago, District of Columbia (D.C.), New Orleans, and San Francisco to provide more detailed insight on Section 3 and their compliance with Section 3. This project presents the opportunity to discuss the influence PHAs can have on Section 3 and how they can be useful in informing new and revised performance measure recommendations.

Paper Presentation

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)

12. Student School Meal Debt. Student school meal debt is the result of accumulated unpaid meal charges on a student’s account. School meals debt has become a national issue impacting K-12 students, their families, schools, and districts. The requested report, from the United States Government Accountability Office, is to track the landscape of the school meal debt issue, report district practices, and describe USDA involvement.

Paper Presentation

13. Diversity Among 401(k) Plan Administrators: A Case for Increasing Representation and Inclusion in the Industry . This report seeks to expand upon existing research examining the state of diversity in the 401(k) industry. My research can be broken out into four distinct sections: (1) the existing state of diversity and recent trends in diversity in the 401(k) workforce (specifically plan administrators), (2) differing 401(k) plan participation, savings rates, and savings balances across different demographic groups; (3) the “business case” for a more diverse 401(k) workforce that demonstrates both financial and holistic benefits of increased diversity; and (4) challenges to improving the workforce diversity and recommendations on how to improve recruitment and retention of diverse candidates.

Paper Presentation

14. The Every Student Succeeds Act: The State of Accountability and Assessment during the 2020-2021 Academic Year. Ensuring that all students have access to a high-quality public education is a widely shared goal. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as reauthorized and amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires all states to have an accountability system that among other things, annually assesses the performance of their schools and students, and uses those assessments to identify underperforming schools and student subgroups for support and improvement.

Paper Presentation

Nongovernmental

Judge Alexander Williams Jr Center for Education, Justice, and Ethics at the University of Maryland

15. Needs Assessment of the Digital Divide among K-12 Students in Prince George’s County Maryland. For my project course I’ve been tasked with tackling the issue of the digital divide. This problem, defined as the uneven distribution of technology, has only been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic and the increased dependence on technology and internet connectivity. The Judge AW Center had started an initial needs assessment defining the problem and why it exists, and I continued this assessment with the added context of how it affects students in Prince George’s County (PGC).

Paper Presentation

New America Foundation

16. Understanding Incorporation of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Open Education Resources Within K-12 Curriculum: Assessment of Educators Need for More Effective Implementation. For this project, I was tasked with analyzing recent survey data to contribute to an understanding of the extent to which culturally responsive education (CRE) and open educational resources (OER) have been incorporated into curriculum. I supplemented this survey analysis with additional qualitative and quantitative research, which were used to assess what educators need in order to better integrate these resources within education. This research and analysis of these findings will be used to inform my proposed recommendations to the organization for what action is necessary. This analysis process will ideally help to direct future research and analysis efforts within the organization moving forward.

Paper Presentation

17. An Analysis of Education Funding Formulas Approach to English Language Learner Support CA, MD, & DE. In the United States, 10% of K-12 students are English Language Learners (ELLs), also known as Limited English Proficiency students (LEP). Fully aware of this statistic, the New America Foundation requested general information about how states are approaching the needs of ELLs in their education funding formulas. This report attempts to look at the education funding formulas in California, Maryland and Delaware and treats them as three individual case studies and compare them to the adequacy information consolidated in the Literature view written by Dr. Oscar Jiménez-Castellanos. First, we will take a look at the literature around education funding formulas and the approach to ELL education adequacy. Next, we share the methodology used to acquire the information presented in the findings. Then we share the findings. And finally the conclusion where we will take a look at how the states measure up to the literature review conducted Dr. Jiménez-Castellanos on adequate funding for ELLs.

Paper Presentation