New Research by Mathematica Contributes to Evidence Base to Improve Public Well-Being

Nov 03, 2016

Mathematica is pleased to announce the awarding of new contracts that contribute to our ongoing mission—to improve public well-being by conducting innovative policy research, cutting-edge data collection, and data analytics that meet the highest standards of quality and objectivity. The work also helps decision makers in the public and private sectors improve the evidence base across all of our focus areas: disability, early childhood, education, employment, family support, health, international development, and nutrition.

 

DISABILITY

 

Evaluating Promising Transition Programs for Students with Disabilities

Mathematica is partnering with two state vocational rehabilitation agencies—the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services and the Vermont Agency of Human Services—on their work-based learning model demonstration projects. Both state agencies have designed unique youth transition projects that will provide comprehensive services and work-based learning experiences to high school students with disabilities to help them prepare for competitive, integrated employment and post-secondary education. Mathematica will conduct evaluations for the projects, providing information to project staff to help them implement and improve their projects and to track student outcomes. The projects are funded through the Department of Education’s Disability Innovation Fund program.

 

EARLY CHILDHOOD

 

Supporting Early Care Coaching Practices for Teachers and Caregivers

A new project will contribute to building the evidence base on early childhood research in the area of coaching practices for teachers and caregivers. Under a contract with the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families, the Study of Coaching Practices in Early Care and Education Settings (SCOPE) begins moving the early care and education field to consensus on the core features of coaching and how they’re defined. SCOPE will focus on coaching that delivers professional development services to teachers and caregivers to improve knowledge and classroom practice for those serving preschool-age children and supported by Child Care Development Fund subsidies or Head Start grants. SCOPE will not only conduct a literature synthesis and develop a conceptual model that identifies and defines core features of coaching and important influences, it will also conduct a mixed-methods, descriptive study of coaching for teachers of preschool-age children. Key partners include Child Trends, the Children’s Learning Institute in the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and consultant Chrishana Lloyd.  

 

EDUCATION

 

Impact Study of Individualized Feedback for Early Career Teachers

Mathematica will lead and conduct this evaluation for the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. This random assignment study will examine the impact of video-based observation and feedback for novice and early-career teachers on their classroom practices and student achievement. In the first year of the program, first-year teachers from 10 districts across the country will be randomly assigned to either (1) receive written feedback, (2) receive written and verbal feedback from a coach, or (3) a control group that receives neither. In the following year, approximately 200 early career teachers (teachers in their 2nd-4th years) will either receive the video-based observations with written and verbal feedback from a coach or to a control group. This study will provide policymakers, district officials, teacher preparation program operators, and professional development providers with important information about preparing and supporting new teachers. Mathematica’s partners include WestEd, Decision Information Resources, Clowder Consulting, Pemberton Research, IRIS Connect, Educopia, and Suzanne Wilson from the University of Connecticut.

 

Improving Educator Effectiveness through Partnership and Collaboration

In a three-year project for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII), Mathematica will disseminate lessons learned from OII’s Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grants. The primary focus is on developing partnerships where SEED grantees can mentor states, districts, and organizations that are actively working on educator development issues. We will also develop a toolkit that builds the capacity of grantees to sustain these partnerships, and host webinars and technical assistance forums to share the grantees’ lessons learned more broadly.

 

EMPLOYMENT

 

Evaluating Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Implementation and Job Corps

Under a contract with the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, Mathematica will examine the early implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and its important reforms of our nation’s workforce system. Within the Department of Labor’s Chief Evaluation Office, Mathematica earned a contract to study the Job Corps program and identify opportunities that could lead to a more effective and efficient program.

 

Scaling Evidence-Based Program Models

Mathematica’s experts will help the Corporation for National and Community Service maximize the use of evidence that grantees across multiple programs, such as AmeriCorps, Social Innovation Fund, and Senior Corps, generate on effective program models. This will also deepen the agency’s understanding of how to scale the adoption and implementation of these models.

 

FAMILY SUPPORT

 

Rigorous, Innovative Research on Coaching Hard-to-Employ TANF Clients

Long recognized as an effective approach to helping people meet career and personal goals, coaching has drawn increased interest as a way to help people with low-income gain and maintain employment. In a contract with the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families, Mathematica will conduct a study that examines whether pairing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) clients or other people with low income with a coach will help them secure a job and become self-sufficient. Using a random assignment design, the study will examine the effectiveness of coaching in up to three programs. We will also conduct an in-depth implementation study that will involve interviews with staff, video tapes of coaching sessions, and interviews with clients.

 

Rapid-Cycle Evaluation Technical Assistance to Support TANF Agencies

In a project for the Office of Family Assistance, located within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, Mathematica experts will provide training and technical assistance to state, local, and/or tribal TANF agencies to build their capacity to use evidence and rapid-cycle evaluation techniques for program improvement.

 

HEALTH

 

Evaluating Two of the Nation’s Large-Scale Primary Care Delivery Initiatives

Mathematica’s health experts are leading work to improve primary care delivery in two notable projects. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has selected Mathematica to evaluate two large-scale initiatives to improve primary care delivery. Mathematica will rigorously evaluate the multi-payer Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) and CMS’s Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative (TCPI). CPC+ is the largest and most ambitious reform of primary care payment and delivery ever tested in this country, while TCPI will prepare practices to deliver value and identify approaches for bringing effective practice transformation to scale nationwide. 

 

Improving Youth Football Outcomes

In the survey, data collection, and health areas, under a new contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mathematica will study head impacts and concussions in youth football, one of the most pressing health concerns in youth sports, and an area in which scientific evidence is lacking. The goal of the study is to produce evidence that will help parents, coaches, sports leagues, and policymakers make informed decisions about participation, rules, and regulations in youth football.

 

Improving Behavioral Health Data Quality

Mathematica survey experts will also conduct a project for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to collect, manage, and analyze data from five Behavioral Health Services Information System (BHSIS) components—information on substance abuse and mental health treatment services. The project aims to improve the overall quality of BHSIS data, which could lead to better care and outcomes.

 

Conducting a Multicity Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax Evaluation

In a project for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Mathematica health experts will conduct a study to comprehensively examine the impacts of sugar-sweetened beverage taxes on key outcomes for children and families who are at high risk of experiencing childhood obesity. The study will focus on three cities that are currently experimenting with sugar-sweetened beverage taxes and have large populations of high-risk children: Philadelphia, Oakland, and San Francisco.

 

INTERNATIONAL

 

Portfolio of International Research Expands to New Sectors and Countries

Experts in our International Division will begin important evaluations of development projects in new countries and in new sectors. Supporting efforts focused on the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Power Africa, we will study innovative energy projects in Malawi and Benin. The subject of transportation has seen increased focus in development, so we will evaluate road and airport projects in Ghana and Tanzania. For each of these projects, our researchers will use innovative methods of data collection, including satellite imaging and remote sensing. In addition, we expand our work in education through evaluations of programs that seek to strengthen competencies of teachers, principals, and administrators; improve technical and vocational education and training; and rehabilitate school infrastructure in Guatemala and Morocco. Finally, we will extend our research with projects to improve agriculture in Burkina Faso and to improve water and sanitation services in Cabo Verde.

 

NUTRITION

Quantifying Identity Theft in SNAP
In the data analytics and nutrition areas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service selected Mathematica to conduct a project quantifying identity theft in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In this study, Mathematica experts will work with one or two states selected by the Food and Nutrition Service to identify behaviors or markers potentially linked to identity theft. These analyses offer program administrators a tool to protect and improve program integrity.