|August 21, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Education, Research|
As students ready themselves to return to their classrooms, a report from the RAND Corporation looks past test scores to the issue of Pennsylvania’s student achievement gap – one of the largest in the country. Although data from 2013 Pennsylvania standardized tests ranks the Commonwealth among the top ten states in student performance (according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)) RAND found sizable achievement gaps according to race/ethnicity, economic status, parent education, and school district.
Some study findings:
- An achievement gap by race/ethnicity: The proportion of white students achieving proficiency or above in reading and math was 24 to 38 percent larger than African-American and Latino students.
- An achievement gap by economic status: Students from lower economic statuses had lower proficiency scores, and were estimated to be an average of two or three years behind their peers from higher economic statuses.
- An achievement gap by district: After removing the highest and lowest performing school districts, RAND found performance gaps between districts similar those identified in the race/ethnicity and economic analyses. Low performing school districts were identified in both urban and rural areas.
The report, The Economic Impact of Achievement Gaps in Pennsylvania’s Public Schools by Lynne Karoly, also compares the achievement of Pennsylvania students both nationally and globally, and examines the impact that gaps in academic performance may have on Pennsylvania’s economy. The full report is available at the RAND website.
Report Citation: Karoly, Lynn A.. The Economic Impact of Achievement Gaps in Pennsylvania’s Public Schools. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2015. http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1159.
|July 29, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Philanthropy, Research|
A study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service suggests that grants to rural-based organizations are on the decline. The report, Foundation Grants to Rural Areas from 2005 to 2010: Trends and Patterns by John Pender, examined data on grants from the Foundation Center (of at least $10,000 awarded by the largest private and community U.S. foundations between 2005-2010), the National Center for Charitable Statistics, the Census Bureau, and USDA’s Economic Research Service to identify patterns grant distribution to rural communities in the United States.
Although 19 percent of the country’s population is located in rural areas, Pender concludes that grant funding “to rural-based organizations accounted for 5.5 percent of the real value of domestic grants by large foundations during 2005 to 2010, with a slight downward trend (based on Foundation Center data on grants by the largest 1,200 to 1,400 foundations).” A random sample of large foundations found that 6.3 percent of the total value of grants awarded in 2010 went to organizations in rural areas. Analysis using a sample of small foundations found the rural share of total grant value went from 7.5 percent in 2005 to 7 percent in 2010. During this time period the majority of grants to rural communities came from independent foundations.
Other findings from the study:
- The average dollar value per person of grants from large foundations to rural organizations was $88, versus $192 per person in metro counties.
- Counties with more college-educated residents (even when grants to universities and students were removed from the sample) received more grants per person.
- Rural organizations received more grants related to higher education, environment, and recreation/leisure than their urban counterparts.
Report Citation: Pender, John L. Foundation Grants to Rural Areas Frrom 2005 to 2010: Trends and Patterns, EIB-141, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, June 2015.
|June 24, 2015||Posted by M. P. under News, Policy, Research|
Americans with disabilities endeavor to find employment and are successful in overcoming obstacles in the workplace, according to the 2015 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey, the first nationally representative survey to examine the work experiences of adult Americans with disabilities. Approximately 68 percent of respondents indicated they were looking for work, have worked, or were currently employed since the onset of disability. Persons currently working averaged 35.5 hours a week, and over half (60.7 percent) worked 40+ hours a week. The majority of those not employed (but looking for work) were actively preparing to enter the workforce in optimum condition by receiving medical treatment and rehabilitation (72.7 percent).
- Most respondents (86.6 percent) reported feeling accepted at their places of employment.
- Over half of those surveyed (68.4 percent) reported that their workplaces provided most or all of the supports or accommodations they needed. The most requested accommodation was schedule flexibility (28.4 percent).
- Challenges for those employed included receiving less pay than others in a similar position (16.5 percent) and management attitudes (15.7 percent). At least one-third of respondents reported overcoming one of these obstacles (38.6 percent for pay disparity and 41.3 percent for supervisor attitude).
The complete report, including video of the presentation of findings on Capitol Hill, is available at the Kessler Foundation website.
Report Citation: Kessler Foundation (2015). The Kessler Foundation 2015 National Employment and Disability Survey: Report of Main Findings. West Orange, NJ.
|June 11, 2015||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Health, Juvenile Delinquency, Policy, Research, Youth Development|
According to 2011 data, 12.5 percent of children under the age of 18 are abused or neglected in the United States each year. A Facts on Youth brief from the Center for Health and Justice at TASC cites a study published in JAMA Pediatrics that found confirmed maltreatment for 1 in 8 youth, with nearly 6 percent of cases (just less than half of confirmed reports) involving children ages 5 and under. The brief also notes that studies of child abuse and maltreatment that rely on self-reports rather than substantiated reports indicate a rate of up to 40 percent.
The Child Trends brief Preventing Violence: Understanding and addressing determinants of youth violence in the United States reviewed relevant research on interventions and policy approaches to reducing youth violence, with an emphasis on individual, family and school/community factors. This review identified several predictors of violence, including domestic violence, dysfunctional parenting, gun availability, low self-control, and lack of connectedness to school. Child maltreatment, however, was a strong predictor of nearly every type of violence. The prevention of child abuse and provision of interventions to address the impact of such trauma appear to be critical actions in reducing the potential of future violence. That said, although child maltreatment is a risk factor for criminal behavior, the longer term negative effects of that experience may be offset or amplified by other life events. Completing high school/getting a GED and getting married were two factors identified by a research team at the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington as having a positive impact on a person’s life, thus reducing the power of the relationship between the maltreatment and future high risk behaviors. A history of maltreatment combined with additional risk factors, such as poverty, increases the likelihood of criminal behavior.
As safety and health are essential factors in optimal child development, and may affect a multitude of life outcomes, new strategies have emerged to better identify and “triage” high-risk situations. States are turning to the big data playbook to assist in investigations of abuse and maltreatment, using predictive analysis to help prioritize reports and better provide preventive services. Information such as family history, school reports and other administrative data, plus case officer knowledge, gives child welfare decision-makers more (if not necessarily better) data to guide the use of resources for the protection of children. Along with Connecticut, Florida, and Los Angeles County, Allegheny County here in western Pennsylvania is utilizing predictive analytics in an effort to reduce child maltreatment, abuse, and fatalities. For more information on how predictive analysis is being used in child welfare, see Who will Seize the Child Abuse Prediction Market by Darian Woods and Checklists, Big Data and the Virtues of Human Judgement by Holden Slattery, both in The Chronicle of Social Change.