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IN THIS ISSUE:

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Assessing Risk Assessment in Action

Aging Out: Using Compassionate Release to Address the Growth of Aging and Infirm Prison Populations


EDUCATION

Beginning College Students Who Change Their Majors Within 3 Years of Enrollment

State Teacher Policy Yearbook 2017

Community Schools as an Effective School Improvement Strategy: A Review of the Evidence

Tackling Transfer: A Guide to Convening Community Colleges and Universities to Improve Transfer Student Outcomes


GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

State Government Research and Development (R+D) Expenditures Increase 3.1% in Fiscal Year 2016

Naturalistic Bicycling Behavior Pilot Study

Capturing More Than Poverty: School Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Data and Household Income


HEALTH AND
HUMAN SERVICES

Characteristics of Office-Based Physician Visits, 2014

Improving Children's Lives: Balancing Investments in Prevention and Treatment in the Child Welfare System

Welfare Rules Databook: State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Policies as of July 2016



December 15, 2017

Criminal_Justice
CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Recent years have seen a rush towards evidence-based tools in criminal justice. As part of this movement, many jurisdictions have adopted actuarial risk assessment to supplement or replace the ad-hoc decisions of judges. This article is one of the first studies to document the impacts of risk assessment in practice. It evaluates pretrial risk assessment in Kentucky, a state that was an early adopter of risk assessment and is often cited as an example of best-practices in the pretrial area. Using data on more than one million criminal cases, the paper shows that a 2011 law making risk assessment a mandatory part of the bail decision led to a significant change in bail setting practice, but only a small increase in pretrial release. These changes eroded over time as judges returned to their previous habits. Furthermore, the increase in releases was not cost-free: failures-to-appear and pretrial crime increased as well. Risk assessment had no effect on racial disparities in pretrial detention once differing regional trends were accounted for.

Source: Social Science Research Network

Developing effective policies and practices to respond to elderly and infirm prison populations is a critical issue for all state corrections departments, which are facing a growing number of older people in prison and the associated costs of medical care. Through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), some states are working to expand a policy known as “compassionate release,” which allows people who meet certain aging or medical criteria to be released earlier than their statutory release dates. Yet significant challenges remain in designing policies that maximize this type of release. This report takes a review of compassionate release policies adopted by two states (Mississippi and South Carolina) through the JRI, and offers suggestions that target the most common challenges faced by states that adopt or modify these policies.

Source: Vera Institute of Justice

Education
EDUCATION

This report examines the extent to which first-time associate’s and bachelor’s degree students change their majors within three years of enrollment. Rates of change in major are shown for students by degree program and by original declared field of study. Within three years of initial enrollment, about 30% of undergraduates in associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs who had declared a major had changed their major at least once. About one-third of students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs changed majors, compared with 28% of those enrolled in associate’s degree programs. About 1 in 10 students changed majors more than once. The rate at which students changed majors varied by their original field of study.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

These reports evaluate states against nine policy goals related to teacher preparation, evaluation, compensation, and retention. Florida and Louisiana are this year’s top performing states, each earning a B+. Over the time period spanning 2009-2015, nearly all states made significant progress on multiple fronts. Since 2015, state progress has slowed considerably, with more states decreasing in overall grade than ever before.

Source: National Council on Teacher Quality

Community schools represent a place-based school improvement strategy in which schools partner with community agencies and local government to provide an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development, and community engagement. Many operate year-round, from morning to evening, and serve both children and adults. The authors synthesized the findings from 143 research studies on the impact of community schools on student and school outcomes, concluding that well-implemented community schools lead to improvement in student and school outcomes and contribute to meeting the educational needs of low-achieving students in high-poverty schools. The research highlights the efficacy of integrated student supports, expanded learning time and opportunities, and family and community engagement as intervention strategies. Promising evidence supports the positive impact of the type of collaborative leadership and practice found in community schools, although little of this research has been done in community schools.

Source: Learning Policy Institute and National Education Policy Center

This report can serve as a resource designed to help state entities organize workshops within which teams from two- and four-year institutions work together to improve transfer and graduation outcomes for their students. Through data analysis and self-reflection of institutional practices, these workshops help institutions develop action plans (individually and among partners) to improve transfer student success.

Source: Aspen Institute

Government Operations
GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

State government agency expenditures for research and development totaled $2.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2016, an increase of 3.1% from Fiscal Year 2014-15. Five state governments (California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Ohio) accounted for 64% of all state government R+D in Fiscal Year 2015-16. Florida state agency expenditures for research and development was $156,058,000 in fiscal year 2015-16. This included $17 million Florida government spending on agriculture-related research and development.

Source: National Science Foundation

Compared to automobile drivers, bicyclists experience higher rates of injuries and fatalities. There are an increasing number of accidents between bicycles and vehicles, too often with serious consequences for the cyclist. Understanding the behavior of drivers and cyclists is critical to understanding how these accidents occur and to finding counter measures that can help prevent them. The researchers developed the Bicycle Data Acquisition System (BDAS), which includes front and rear cameras, front, right, and rear proximity sensors, a digital thermometer, a 3-axis accelerometers, a 3-axis gyroscope, light level detectors, and a GPS receiver. One hundred participants were recruited from the University of South Florida to have their bicycles fitted with the BDAS. Data from measures of participants cycling behavior identified several patterns that might contribute to cyclist crashes. Female riders were more likely to fall into the categories High Risk and High Distraction, younger cyclists took many more risks than older riders, and formal bicycling training increased compliant behavior. Based on these findings, the researchers recommended countermeasures, including outreach and education to at-risk groups, design of bike lanes to reduce conflicts, better lighting on roads with high bicycle volumes, and educating cyclists on using reflective clothing and gear.

Source: Florida Department of Transportation

Educational researchers often use National School Lunch Program (NSLP) data as a proxy for student poverty. Under NSLP policy, students whose household income is less than 130% of the poverty line qualify for free lunch and students whose household income is between 130% and 185% of the poverty line qualify for reduced-price lunch. Linking school administrative records for all 8th graders in a California public school district to household-level Internal Revenue Service (IRS) income tax data, the report examines how well NSLP data capture student disadvantage. It found both that there is substantial disadvantage in household income not captured by NSLP category data, and that NSLP categories capture disadvantage on test scores above and beyond household income.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Health and Human Services
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

In 2014, there were an estimated 282 office-based physician visits per 100 persons. The visit rate among females exceeded the rate for males, and the rates for both infants and older adults exceeded the rates for those aged 1-64 years. Compared with other age groups, a higher percentage of visits by adults aged 18-64 indicated no insurance. A larger percentage of visits by children under age 18 years were for either preventive care or a new problem, compared with adults aged 18 and over. Compared with children, a larger percentage of visits by adults included a laboratory test, imaging service, or a procedure being ordered or provided.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Expanding prevention and treatment services in the U.S. child welfare system could improve the lives of children and reduce total lifetime expenses of such services by 3% to 7%. This savings equates to a reduction of approximately $5.2 to $10.5 billion in lifetime costs for the 24 million children considered by the model. Lifetime costs are the sum of expenses associated with preventive and child welfare system services provided to children, such as costs of an investigation of a maltreatment report or a temporary foster care placement. The estimates show that cases of maltreatment would decline by about 2% to 4%, substantiated cases of child maltreatment would decrease by 1% to 3% and the likelihood of negative long-term outcomes (homelessness, underemployment, criminal conviction and substance abuse) would decrease by about 2% to 6% over a child's lifetime.

Source: RAND Corporation

The Welfare Rules Databook provides tables containing key Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) policies for each state as of July 2016, as well as longitudinal tables describing selected state policies from 1996 through 2016. The tables are based on the information in the Welfare Rules Database, a publicly available, online database tracking state cash assistance policies over time and across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. This databook summarizes a subset of the information in the Welfare Rules Database.

Source: Urban Institute


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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

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