Student Reports

Spring 2020

Professors Douglas Besharov, Douglas Call, and Carl DeLorenzo


In Spring 2020, students worked with the Baltimore Metropolitan Council,the Frederick County Department of Housing and Community Development, the Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services, the Montgomery County Department of Parks, Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Health Equity, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Maryland's Town of University Park. 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

Baltimore Metropolitan Council

1. Qualified Allocation Plan Policy Analysis. The following is a policy analysis written for the Baltimore Metropolitan Council. The analysis seeks to exhibit how Maryland can better implement policies of deconcentration of poverty and community revitalization into it’s qualified allocation plan for low income housing tax credits. The study compare Maryland’s QAP to three other states: Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Paper

Frederick County Department of Housing and Community Development

2. Becoming an Entitlement Community: An Analysis of the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Entitlement Community Designation on Frederick County, MD. The Frederick County Department of Housing and Community Development is a department within the Frederick County, MD government. The mission of the department is to assist in the provision of affordable housing for Frederick County residents with an emphasis on special needs populations, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and low to moderate income workforce households. The county is nearing the population threshold for entitlement community designation entitling the county to direct annual allocations of Community Development Block Grants funds. The following policy analysis looks at relevant data related to population growth, the anticipated funding allocations, and other local governments with entitlement designation, in order to make a recommendation for Frederick County to proactively prepare for the entitlement community designation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Paper Presentation

Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services

3. Performance Measure Evaluation for HoCoSTRIVES. Because HoCo STRIVES is only in its third year of implementation, there is a need to examine whether or not the current performance measures used to quantify impact are the most effective. The Department of Community Resources and Services have requested that I perform an identification and development of these program measures. Additionally, the Department of Community Resources and Services has asked me to do a deeper analysis of Building Youth Resiliency and Ready Rosie to assess the causal validity of their logic models, and to provide recommendations where I see fit based on my analysis of these programs.

Paper Presentation

Montgomery County Department of Parks

4. Improving Montgomery County Department of Parks Performance Indicators and Related Data Collection. Throughout this report, Part I will refer to the portion of the project which will involve quantitatively summarizing the results of existing internal datasets and standardizing best practices for analysis. Part II will refer to the portion of the project that will involve evaluation of existing performance indicators per goal. Part III will refer to the publicly-accessible Tableau-based dashboards displaying Montgomery Parks’ performance indicators using the same data from Part I to allow users to understand whether and to what extent the indicators are being met. Part III will be published on Montgomery Parks’ website after the end of the semester in which this project report was completed. In this section, I will also provide an outline of what the dashboard will look like, include an example of a Tableau-based visual that will be used to create the dashboard, and (in the recommendations) provide advice to improve the dashboard’s effectiveness once published.

Paper Presentation

Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Health Equity

5.  Evaluating the Office of Health Equity’s Information Productions and Operations to Improve Communication and the Veterans Health Administration’s Equity Efforts. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) does great work providing and administering health care to veterans across the United States, but still, health disparities remain. In 2012, the VHA created the Office of Health Equity (OHE) to mitigate these issues. My goal is to research OHE’s efforts, as well as those taken by other relevant offices inside and outside of the VHA. This research will inform my recommendations for facilitating better communication and creating performance measures to track that communication; the ultimate objective being to streamline the processes that diminish health disparities.Ideally this process would foster stronger relationships between the VHA and other related offices, bolster information-sharing, showcase achievements, and cast the OHE in a role that says, “what can our office do for you?”.

Paper Presentation

State Government

Town of University Park, Maryland

6.  University Park Town Park Project: Developing a Conceptual Plan. As the Town of University Park works to develop a conceptual plan for its town park, the following report will serve as a useful point of reference for implementing a long-term strategy to address existing needs and increase the sustainability of its green spaces. Moreover, the report will provide the town with a clearer picture of the planning and regulatory environment in which it must operate to develop best practices for effective green-space management and environmental stewardship. The report will provide: (1) a structured literature review of best practices for green space planning at the municipal level, (2) a comparative analysis of municipal governance practices and environmental priorities in two case studies of similar jurisdictions in Maryland, and (3) a review of the relevant regulatory stakeholders and partners involved in natural resource management and environmental stewardship throughout Maryland. Each section utilizes visual modeling (tables, stakeholder charts, digitized maps, etc.) to supplement its written analysis.

Paper Presentation

Federal Government

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families

7. Family Engagement: a Research and Model Review. This project report was prepared for the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. It is a dual-stage research review of government/academic publications and four selected models. There are three key family engagement outcomes of interest: school readiness, transitional success, and economic outcomes, and a summary of four current models demonstrating success in these outcomes. While neither research reviews are exhaustive, the goal of this project is elucidate the overlap and gaps between government publications, academic publications, and models perceived as “successful”. By demonstrating these areas of overlap and gaps, I hope to offer ACF tools to encourage the ECE family engagement field to guide their research and models in appropriate areas. My research reveals that there are some clear areas of overlap between government and academic publications, and areas of agreement between the models examined and government publications, but there is a gap between academic research/publications and the models examined here. My research has also revealed a dearth of academic research regarding economic outcomes, and very few counterfactual based publications.

Paper Presentation

U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)

8. Veterans Affairs Disability Compensation. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) does great work providing and administering health care to veterans across the United States, but still, health disparities remain. In 2012, the VHA created the Office of Health Equity (OHE) to mitigate these issues. My goal is to research OHE’s efforts, as well as those taken by other relevant offices inside and outside of the VHA. This research will inform my recommendations for facilitating better communication and creating performance measures to track that communication; the ultimate objective being to streamline the processes that diminish health disparities. Ideally this process would foster stronger relationships between the VHA and other related offices, bolster information-sharing, showcase achievements, and cast the OHE in a role that says, “what can our office do for you?”.

Paper Presentation

9. Research Review of the Academic and Workforce Outcomes of Career and Technical Education Secondary School Participants. For my project, I assisted the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in understanding the effectiveness of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and the accessibility to high-quality programs by conducting a research review on CTE programs at the high school level across the country. In 2006, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins IV) was reauthorized. Congress re-committed to providing nearly $1.3 billion annually for CTE programs, which are administered through the U.S. Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education State Grants program.1 While CTE programs are common throughout high schools and can have a positive impact on students' outcomes, the challenge has been providing high-quality programs because of several issues including a lack of transportation to work programs and difficulty finding or keeping teachers for in-demand industries and occupations.2,3 The GAO sought a research review on peer-reviewed studies on student outcomes. The research question addressed is as follows: What is known about the academic and workforce outcomes of participants in CTE programs at the secondary school level? The final product is a detailed review and synthesis of research using an articulated inclusion/exclusion criteria and search strategy.

Paper Presentation

10. State Activity Relating to Illicit Drug Use Prevention and Education for Adolescents 12-17. This project addresses an information gap around the amount and effectiveness of state government involvement in underage substance use prevention and education. It seeks to answer the research question, “what are states doing to prevent underage substance use, and how are the results of those efforts measured?” This project answers this question by surveying curriculum and program models commonly used at the state level, determining the degree to which those models are evidence-based, and the ways states track effectiveness of programs implemented to prevent illicit drug use. In this project, I provide a summary of selected state prevention and education efforts targeting adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17. This includes both community- and classroom-based prevention and education activity.

Paper Presentation

Nongovernmental

Bipartisan Policy Center

11. ISAs & WIOA: Income-Share Agreements as a Workforce Development Tool. This project seeks to develop a workforce ISA pilot program to be implemented through workforce development boards (WDBs) nationwide and to be applied to short-term (less than one year) certificate and training programs. A review of the literature reveals a dearth of evaluation on effective ISA design and implementation practices as well as on the impacts of ISAs on student outcomes or the economy. I conduct a systematic review of ISA programs applied to nonprofit higher education and training programs to determine best practices for ISA design elements, and I conduct interviews with workforce ISA experts to glean additional information on best practices, lessons learned, and opportunities and challenges of implementing a workforce ISA. I use the best practices I identified and other key takeaways from this research to design a pilot program for an ISA program to be piloted through workforce boards nationwide. Workforce ISAs offer an opportunity to capitalize on existing knowledge and career counseling infrastructure within WDBs to streamline the process of enrolling students in education and training programs that lead directly to in-demand occupational skills. However, uncertainty about how regulations impact ISAs – at the national, state, and local levels – poses a challenge to the creation and implementation of successful workforce ISA programs.

Paper Presentation