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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation;
Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS) is an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support colleges that seek to incorporate technology into their advising and student services. In iPASS, such technology is intended to increase advising's emphasis on a student's entire college experience, enabling advisers to more easily (1) intervene when students show early warning signs of academic and nonacademic challenges, (2) regularly follow up as students progress through college, (3) refer students to tutoring and other support services when needed, and (4) provide personalized guidance that reflects students' unique needs.To study how technology can support advising redesign, MDRC and the Community College Research Center partnered with three institutions already implementing iPASS: California State University, Fresno; Montgomery County Community College; and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The three institutions increased the emphasis on providing timely support, boosted their use of advising technologies, and used administrative and communication strategies to increase student contact with advisers. The enhancements at all three institutions are being evaluated using a randomized controlled trial research design.This report shows that the enhancements generally produced only a modestly different experience for students in the program group compared with students in the control group, although at one college, the enhancements did substantially increase the number of students who had contact with an adviser. Consequently, it is not surprising that the enhancements have so far had no discernible positive effects on students' academic performance. The findings also highlight the potential for unintended consequences. Before the study, each of the institutions had required that certain groups of students see an adviser before registering for classes in the next semester. Each institution expanded this preregistration requirement to include all students in the study's program groups, but at one institution, the requirement appears to have contributed to a small reduction in earned credits.
Strategies that advance eviction and homelessness prevention are complex, often misunderstood, and poorly utilized. Just as strategies that address homelessness when it occurs, preventing homelessness requires root cause analysis, systems change, targeting of resources, policy changes for organizations and systems, research and evaluation, and using data to plan, establish metrics, and measure progress. This report describes how a local community – Montgomery County, PA – took a strategic look at what was working in other communities and how these strategies might advance eviction and homelessness prevention in their community.
Center for American Progress;
This report examines how the pernicious problem of partisan gerrymandering stymies efforts toward sensible reforms in several states—including North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia—despite strong public support for gun safety measures. These states provide some of the most extreme examples of gerrymandering: Even though Democrats won a majority of the statewide votes, control of the state legislatures remained with Republicans who, for the most part, have refused to allow meaningful debate on any commonsense gun safety measures. In each of these states, it is likely that, in the absence of partisan gerrymandering, the legislature would have enacted measures to strengthen gun laws—measures that could have saved lives.The report also puts forward a policy solution: States should require independent commissions to draw voter-determined districts based on statewide voter preferences. Implementing this policy would end partisan gerrymandering and increase representation for communities that have too often been shut out of the political system and also suffer the most from the lack of sensible gun safety legislation
Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council;
Why this research project, and why now? There is urgency to this inquiry. It is written against the real-world backdrop of patterns of cultural appropriation, omission, and exclusion in the Pittsburgh area arts community dating back decades. Racial Equity and Arts Funding in Greater Pittsburgh is an opportunity to promote understanding about past and current practices regarding race and arts funding in Greater Pittsburgh. It is an inquiry into how resources, in the form of competitive grants programs by public arts agencies and private foundations, are distributed.This report offers recommendations on how equity issues can be addressed through revisions to grantmaking policies and procedures, with the goal of making some features common practice among all funders, both public and private. Recommendations include broader initiatives that go beyond grantmaking processes to policy shifts and special programs.
National Fund for Workforce Solutions;
Giant Eagle and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center face different types of challenges in recruiting, training and retaining workers, but both have found young adults with disabilities to be a key, and often overlooked, source of talent. Both employers have developed strategies for hiring and retaining young adults with disabilities which have helped their organizations tackle these challenges and thrive.
Consortium for Policy Research in Education;
The report details a two-year exploratory, mixed-methods research study on the disciplinary practices and climate of schools serving Kâ8 students in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP). Findings reveal that SDP schools are making efforts to reduce suspensions and improve climate, but critical barriers to these efforts include resource limitations and philosophical misalignments between teachers and school leaders. The study identified three profiles among SDP schools serving Kâ8 students based on information about disciplinary practices and climate, and found that these profiles are predictive of suspension and academic outcomes. Students attending schools with collaborative climates and less punitive approaches to discipline have lower risk of being suspended and better academic outcomes. The report offers a series of recommendations for strengthening the implementation of climate initiatives, including Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), in challenging urban settings.
The Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching initiative, designed and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was a multiyear effort to dramatically improve student outcomes by increasing students' access to effective teaching. Participating sites adopted measures of teaching effectiveness (TE) that included both a teacher's contribution to growth in student achievement and his or her teaching practices assessed with a structured observation rubric. The TE measures were to be used to improve staffing actions, identify teaching weaknesses and overcome them through effectiveness-linked professional development (PD), and employ compensation and career ladders (CLs) as incentives to retain the most-effective teachers and have them support the growth of other teachers. The developers believed that these mechanisms would lead to more-effective teaching, greater access to effective teaching for low-income minority (LIM) students, and greatly improved academic outcomes.Beginning in 2009–2010, three school districts -- Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) in Florida; Memphis City Schools (MCS) in Tennessee (which merged with Shelby County Schools, or SCS, during the initiative); and Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) in Pennsylvania -- and four charter management organizations (CMOs) -- Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, Aspire Public Schools, Green Dot Public Schools, and Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC) Schools -- participated in the Intensive Partnerships initiative. RAND and the American Institutes for Research conducted a six-year evaluation of the initiative, documenting the policies and practices each site enacted and their effects on student outcomes. This is the final evaluation report.
Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commision;
This report summarizes DVRPC's most recent attempt to identify transit-oriented development (TOD) opportunities throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. Using a variety of demographic, physical, and market conditions, DVRPC has created a rating system that assesses the TOD readiness of over 150 station areas throughout the region. These assessments can help municipalities, transit providers, and developers prioritize transit-supportive investments in the coming years
The Pittsburgh Regional Diversity Survey asked southwestern Pennsylvania residents for their views on diversity in the workplace, region and their neighborhood. Of the 3,553 people who took the online survey, 78 percent are white, 13.2 percent are African American, 3.9 percent are Hispanic, 2.9 percent are Asian and 2.1 percent are of mixed race. Here are the key findings:Overall, 68 percent of all residents surveyed "strongly agree" there is value in a diverse workplace. But an opinion gap exists along racial lines: 80 percent of minorities strongly agree a diverse workplace has value compared with fewer than 64 percent of white workers.Fewer than 30 percent of workers describe their workplace as "very diverse." White workers are almost twice as likely as minorities to describe workplaces as "very diverse."Only half of workers overall describe their employer as being very committed to hiring minority workers. And only 42 percent see their employers as being very committed to advancing and promoting minority workers.Minorities are much less likely to hold their employer's commitment to diversity in high regard. For example, 55 percent of white workers feel their employer is very committed to hiring minorities while 34 percent of minority workers say the same about their employer.73 percent of white workers say their race isn't a factor in getting a promotion while only 51 percent of minorities agree. And 31 percent of minorities see their race and ethnicity as a disadvantage in such decisions; only 13 percent of whites feel the same way.More than 86 percent of workers overall are satisfied to some degree with their job. But while 52 percent of white workers are very satisfied with their job, only 34 percent of minority workers feel the same way about theirs.
Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED);
The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard is a comprehensive look at Americans' financial security today and their opportunities to create a more prosperous future. It assesses the 50 states and the District of Columbia on 130 outcome and policy measures, which describe how well residents are faring and what states are doing to help them build and protect assets. The Scorecard enables states to benchmark their outcomes and policies against other states in five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care, and Education.
Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice;
Prison sentences in Pennsylvania are indeterminate for the vast majority of cases.2 Pennsylvania has adoptedmandatory minimum penalties and a "three strikes" law for certain crimes. The state also has a permanent Commission on Sentencing which formulated sentencing guidelines, effective in 1982.3 Although judges must consider these guidelines, and must give reasons for sentences that depart from them, the sentencing guidelines are effectively advisory: they are not legally enforced on appeal.