PolicyNotes Banner

IN THIS ISSUE:

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Criminal Victimization, 2016

School Safety: By the Numbers

Estimating the Prevalence of Wrongful Convictions

Defining and Understanding the Scope of Child Sexual Abuse: Challenges and Opportunities


EDUCATION

Reading Achievement of U.S. Fourth-Grade Students in an International Context

Scientific Evidence for the Validity of the New Mexico Kindergarten Observation Tool

Making Sense of State School Funding Policy


GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

Survey: Floridians’ Perceptions of Water and Natural Resources

Moves From State to State Fluctuate in Just 10 Years

Not Everything is Broken: The Future of U.S. Transportation and Water Infrastructure Funding and Finance

What Are the Top Jobs for Older Workers?


HEALTH AND
HUMAN SERVICES

Trends in Retail Prices of Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans: 2006 to 2015

State Alcohol Excise Taxes May Have Little Effect on Drunk Driving Fatalities



December 8, 2017

Criminal_Justice
CRIMINAL JUSTICE

This analysis presents national data on criminal victimization reported and not reported to police in 2016, including the characteristics of crimes and victims and outcomes of victimization. In 2016, U.S. residents age 12 or older experienced 5.7 million violent victimizations a rate of 21.1 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. The rate of stranger violence (8.2 per 1,000 persons) was higher than the rate of intimate partner violence (2.2 per 1,000). In 2016, U.S. households experienced 15.9 million property crimes a rate of 119.4 per 1,000 households. Motor vehicle thefts (80%) were the most likely of all crime types to be reported to police. In 2016, a total of 1.3% of all persons age 12 or older experienced one or more violent victimizations.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice

Nationally, school crime rates have decreased since the early 1990s. Though violent crime against students increased from 2010 to 2013, the student victimization rate declined 70% between 1992 and 2013. Today’s students are less likely to be threatened or injured with a weapon, including a gun, at school than they were 10 years ago. Since 1992, the percentage of youth homicides occurring at school has not changed, comprising less than 3% of the total number of youth homicides.

Source: Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice

This study extended research on wrongful convictions in the United States and the factors associated with justice system errors that lead to the incarceration of innocent people. Among cases in which physical evidence produced a DNA profile of known origin, 12.6% of the cases had DNA evidence that would support a claim of wrongful conviction; however, extrapolating to all cases in this study’s dataset, it estimated a slightly smaller rate of 11.6%. The process by which case outcomes are revised by considering court processing and case disposition information highlights the limits of DNA evidence in identifying potential instances of wrongful conviction. Also, although most post-conviction efforts to show an erroneous conviction rely on DNA testing only when the conviction is probably wrong, the current work puts the DNA testing at the front end, which simultaneously used DNA to identify both wrong convictions and right convictions. Future analyses will include a determination of whether the data collected correlates with instances of potentially wrongful conviction and will present findings on the utility of DNA as a detection tool for wrongful convictions.

Source: Urban Institute

The enormous individual, familial, and societal burden of child sexual abuse has underscored the need to address the problem from a public health framework. Much work remains, however, at the first step of this framework, defining and understanding the scope of the problem, or establishing incidence and prevalence estimates. This paper provide an overview of the ways researchers have defined and estimated the scope of child sexual abuse, focusing on agency tabulations and large-scale surveys conducted over the last several decades. More precise estimates of the number of children affected by child sexual abuse would improve the ability of the public health, child welfare, pediatrics, and other communities to prevent and respond to the problem. The authors of this paper recommend using a comprehensive surveillance system to assess and track the scope of child sexual abuse. This system should be grounded by common definitional elements and draw from multiple indicators and sources to estimate the prevalence of a range of sexually abusive experiences.

Source: RTI International

Education
EDUCATION

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016 is the fourth administration of this international comparison since the initial administration in 2001. PIRLS is used to compare over time the reading skills of 4th-grade students and is designed to align broadly with reading curricula in the participating countries. The results, therefore, suggest the degree to which students have learned the reading concepts and skills likely to have been taught in school. In 2016, there were 58 education systems (including countries and other education systems) that participated at grade 4. The U.S. overall average reading score was 549. This score was higher than the PIRLS scale centerpoint, which is set at 500 points. The U.S. overall average reading score was lower than the averages for 12 education systems, higher than the averages for 30 education systems, and not significantly different from the averages for 15 education systems. There was no measurable change in the U.S. overall average reading scale score between 2001 and 2016.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

This study examined the construct validity of the 2015 New Mexico Kindergarten Observation Tool (KOT), an observational measure of students’ knowledge and skills completed by the kindergarten teacher at the beginning of the year. Construct validity analyses supported an overall general school readiness score and two domain scores: a cognitive school readiness domain score and a non-cognitive school readiness domain score. The analyses did not support the six domain scores identified by the developer. KOT domain scores were moderately correlated with scores from an established measure of early literacy skills, and the correlation patterns support the conclusion that the KOT domains measure distinct dimensions of school readiness. Rating categories were distinct (that is, no category was redundant) and ordered appropriately (that is, teachers used higher rating categories for students with higher overall ability). Substantial classroom-level variation was found for KOT domain scores and item ratings. Such variation is not uncommon among observational measures or indirect assessments, but it raises questions about the extent to which scores measure students’ true abilities.

Source: Southwest Regional Educational Laboratory at SEDL

State policymakers throughout the country are enacting or considering major reforms to how they fund public schools. School funding policy is complicated, in part because districts can respond in ways that may counteract state policymakers’ goals. This report provides an overview of how state school funding policy works, including how states measure student and district needs, how funding formulas divide responsibility between state and local revenue sources, and how different components of funding policy interact.

Source: Urban Institute

Government Operations
GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

This report presents results of a survey of 496 Florida residents on perceptions of water quality issues. Overall, respondents believed the water quality had not changed in the following water sources: springs, estuaries, groundwater, lakes, rivers, oceans, and bays. Forty-three percent of respondents believed the water quality of springs had not changed, yet 34% of respondents believed the water quality of oceans had become worse. While majority of respondents believe there was no change in the quality of water, there was prominent concern to have clean drinking water among Floridians. Ninety-eight percent of those surveyed consider it highly or extremely important to have clean drinking water. Twenty percent of respondents were likely to visit springs, lakes, and state parks to learn about water issues, and 42% said they were likely to support water restrictions issues by local government.

Source: UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education

The U.S. experiences continuous social and economic change over the years and different cycles can have a sizable impact on the movement of people from place to place within the country, referred to as domestic migration. Population estimates show that in 2005, states (Florida and Arizona) that experienced positive net domestic migration (more people moving in than out) had much less gain during 2010 but bounced back by 2015. States that were losing people to other states early in the period (California and New York), stemmed their net migration losses as mobility slowed but then returned to previous levels by the end of the period. Finally, some states (Texas, North Dakota, the District of Columbia, and Colorado) continued to experience increasing net domestic migration gains throughout the entire period.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

This report identifies the policies that promote and deter investment in and maintenance of U.S. transportation and water infrastructure. It focuses on status and trends in operations and maintenance and capital spending by all levels of government; reviews current policy and practice; and recommends actions that the federal government could take to better align both policy and spending to public priorities. The data do not support a picture of precipitous decline in national spending on the physical condition of transportation and water infrastructure. Where the local and regional economies are thriving, good governance is the rule, and revenue streams for sustainable operations and maintenance are in place, infrastructure tends to be well maintained and modernized. Elsewhere, problems persist that defy easy solutions. For example, the federal Highway Trust Fund and many of the state funds for drinking water and wastewater treatment plants have not been operating on a sustainable basis for some time now, and communities with declining tax bases struggle to maintain their roads, bridges, and water systems and repay their debts to bond holders.

Source: RAND Corporation

This brief identifies the most prevalent and enjoyable occupations for older workers. Many of these jobs require substantial education or experience, but others are less skilled and physically demanding. Among men ages 62 and older, the five most common occupations are delivery workers and truck drivers, janitors, farmers and ranchers, postsecondary teachers, and lawyers. Among women ages 62 and older, the five most common occupations are non-postsecondary teachers, secretaries, personal care aides, registered nurses, and child care workers. Sixty-one percent of workers ages 62 and older agree with the statement that they really enjoy going to work, and 31% strongly agree. About two-thirds of clergy members ages 62 and older strongly agree that they really enjoy going to work, making that occupation the favorite job among older workers. Older employees also tend to enjoy jobs that involve working with children, such as teacher assistants and child care workers. Customer service representatives rank as the least favorite job among older workers, with 28.1% reporting that they do not really enjoy going to work. Other low-ranked occupations among workers ages 62 and older include construction laborers, construction equipment operators, and security guards.

Source: Urban Institute

Health and Human Services
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

This report finds that retail prices for widely used prescription drugs increased, on average, between 2006 and 2015. In 2015, retail prices for 768 brand name, generic, and specialty prescription drugs widely used by Medicare beneficiaries increased by an average of 6.4%. In contrast, the general inflation rate was 0.1% over the same period. Increases in the retail price of specialty prescription drugs have a corresponding impact on the cost of drug therapy for the individual and for all other payers. In 2015, the average annual retail cost of prescription drug therapy for one drug, based on the market basket in this study, was almost $13,000 per year. This average annual cost was four-fifths of the average Social Security retirement benefit ($16,101). It was also more than half of the median income for Medicare beneficiaries ($25,150) and almost one-quarter of the median U.S. household income ($55,775) over the same time period.

Source: AARP Public Policy Institute

This research examined two alcohol excise tax increases enacted by Illinois in 1999 and in 2009. Using the synthetic control method, we find no evidence that either tax increase reduces fatal alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes for the whole of Illinois, although the authors did find evidence of a significant, if temporary, reduction in the interior counties of Illinois following the 2009 tax increase, possibly because drivers there find it more difficult to avoid the tax increase by crossing state lines.

Source: Urban Institute


N O T E :
An online subscription may be required to view some items.




GOVERNMENT PROGRAM SUMMARIES (GPS)
Government Program Summaries (GPS) is a free resource for legislators and the public that provides descriptive information on over 200 state government programs. To provide fiscal data, GPS links to Transparency Florida, the Legislature's website that includes continually updated information on the state's operating budget and daily expenditures by state agencies.

POLICYNOTES

A publication of the Florida Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis And Government Accountability

PolicyNotes, published every Friday, features reports, articles, and websites with timely information of interest to policymakers and researchers. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by third parties as reported in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect OPPAGA's views.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of PolicyNotes provided that this section is preserved on all copies.