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12 minutes | Sep 22, 2022
Training Students for the Green Jobs of Tomorrow
Green jobs in diverse industries, such as transportation, construction, environmental management, and agriculture, have grown in recent years and are predicted to further increase in the future. Filling these jobs will require a skilled workforce, yet federal investments in training for green jobs have focused mostly on adults. In this episode, Leigh Parise talks with Rachel Rosen, a senior research associate and co-director of MDRC's Center for Effective Career and Technical Education, on evidence-based strategies that can help create pathways for careers in the green economy for young people.
26 minutes | Aug 10, 2022
Improving Pre-K Assessments: An Interview with Preschool Teachers
The majority of children in the United States now attend some type of formal pre-K program before starting elementary school. Pre-K assessments—or short tests and activities that measure early skills—are an important tool for understanding children’s learning and development in these settings. In this episode, Leigh Parise talks with Lia Wilson, the Preschool Program Coordinator at the Parent Infant Center in Philadelphia, and Brooks Wilson, a Lead Teacher at the Center, to gain their perspective of the assessment process and how it can be improved.
31 minutes | May 20, 2022
Improving Pre-K Assessments: An Interview with School Administrators
The majority of children in the United States now attend some type of formal pre-K program before starting elementary school. Pre-K assessments—or short tests and activities that measure early skills—are an important tool for understanding children’s learning and development in these settings. In this episode, Leigh Parise talks with two leaders from the AppleTree Institute—Dr. Niesha Keemer, Principal and Instructional Leader, and Dr. Abby Carlson, Director of Research and Impact— about the benefits of pre-K assessments and the AppleTree Institute’s Every Child Ready model.
15 minutes | Apr 14, 2022
Considerations for Jurisdictions Seeking Pretrial Reform
As part of the criminal justice system, the pretrial system is set up to ensure individuals appear in court to maintain public safety and maximize pretrial release. But over the last few decades, a more punitive approach to pretrial justice has evolved, in which jailing individuals who haven't been convicted of a crime has become the norm in many jurisdictions. In many cases, individuals remain in jail pretrial simply because they cannot afford the cash bail set in their case. As a result, people with low incomes, unable to pay for their freedom, are more likely to suffer the consequences of pretrial detention, including major disruptions to work and family life, regardless of their likelihood of returning to court or the risk they pose to public safety. To combat the rise in jail populations and to make pretrial practices more equitable, jurisdictions across the country are seeking to reform their pretrial systems.
28 minutes | Jan 26, 2022
THE-RCT Database: A New Resource for Analyzing Studies of Postsecondary Education Interventions
Improving outcomes for community college students has long been the focus of rigorous research studies by MDRC and others. Through a project called The Higher Education Randomized Controlled Trial, or THE-RCT, MDRC has created a broadly accessible database that compiles student-level data from all MDRC’s randomized controlled trial evaluations of postsecondary education programs. Researchers are able to use the database to conduct analyses across studies to answer important questions about the effectiveness of different higher education interventions. THE-RCT is supported by Arnold Ventures and the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education. In this episode, Leigh Parise talks with Michael Weiss, a Senior Fellow in MDRC's Postsecondary Education policy area, about how MDRC has used this database, how other researchers can access it, and how MDRC is encouraging colleagues to contribute their own studies to THE-RCT.
22 minutes | Dec 9, 2021
Providing Comprehensive Support Services to College Students: An Interview with SUCCESS Students and Coaches
A growing body of research shows that comprehensive student support programs can increase graduation rates for students from low-income backgrounds and students of color. But what do these programs look like on the ground? And what are the experiences of students participating in them? In this episode, Leigh Parise talks with students and staff from Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Indiana about SUCCESS, a student support program that offers personalized advising and financial incentives and emphasizes data-driven program management. Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington is one of 13 colleges across five states participating in MDRC’s Scaling Up College Completion Efforts for Student Success (SUCCESS), which aims to increase degree completion through the implementation of comprehensive support programs based on strong evidence.
17 minutes | Dec 6, 2021
An Innovative Workforce Program: An Interview with Two Coaches from the MyGoals for Employment Success Program
Too many people in the United States struggle to achieve economic mobility. With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting vulnerable populations the most, gaining financial stability became even harder. Workforce programs that focus on helping people find jobs may not be enough to advance in the labor market, especially for people facing additional barriers to success. The MyGoals for Employment Success program offers a unique coaching model that concentrates on developing executive skills—like emotional control, stress tolerance, time management, and organization—to help participants successfully navigate the labor market, acquire occupational credentials, perform well at a job, and advance at work. In this episode, Leigh Parise talks with two MyGoals coaches, Shirley McGee from the Houston Housing Authority and Ashley Coston from the Housing Authority of Baltimore, about the challenges the participants and coaches face and the benefits the program offers to the participants.
23 minutes | Aug 26, 2021
Providing Substance Use Disorder Treatment, Recovery, and Employment Services During the Pandemic
Programs that combine employment services with substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and recovery services have faced unprecedented challenges in the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased substance misuse and overdose, dramatic increases in unemployment, and the need to quickly shift to virtual service provision. In partnership, MDRC, Abt Associates, and MEF Associates learned how some of these SUD treatment programs adapted their services early in the pandemic in response to these challenges [ link to the brief]. MDRC recently released a brief on responses to COVID-19 by seven SUD treatment programs across the country. The brief was written as part of the Building Evidence on Employment Strategies Project, or BEES, funded by the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In this episode, Leigh Parise talks with researchers Karin Martinson from Abt Associates and Susan Scrivener from MDRC about the key findings from the brief. They are joined by Matthew Brown, Senior Vice President of Administration at Addiction Recovery Care (ARC), one of the programs participating in the BEES study.
9 minutes | Jun 9, 2021
Internships and Apprenticeships in a Newly Virtual Workplace
Work-based learning opportunities, like internships and apprenticeships, are a critical component to many career and technical education programs. They can help participants develop critical skills for in-demand careers. The abrupt shift to virtual education caused by the pandemic hit these programs especially hard. In this episode, Leigh Parise talks with Hannah Dalporto, a research associate at MDRC, who recently cowrote a piece about how employers and trainers have been adapting their services during the pandemic to keep students connected to the labor market.
25 minutes | Apr 6, 2021
How One Home Visiting Model Adapted During the Pandemic
Early childhood experiences of trauma and toxic stress can affect how young children develop and are associated with learning and behavior problems. Child First is a promising home visiting program that aims to mitigate or prevent these negative experiences for families to promote healthy development for kids. An initial study of Child First found that the program improved children's social-emotional skills and language development, reduced mother's depression and improved their psychological functioning, reduced family involvement with child protective services, and increased families' connections to services and support. In this episode, Leigh Parise talks with Mervett Hefyan, a research analyst at MDRC; Massiel Abramson, a clinician with Child First in Connecticut; and Jessica Canavan, a licensed clinical social worker and assistant director of community-based services at her organization in North Carolina, which houses a Child First program. They discuss MDRC's replication study of Child First and how the program adapted their home-visiting model during the pandemic to continue helping families.
46 minutes | Dec 21, 2020
Rural Higher Education: Challenges and Opportunities — Part IV
A special series from the Rural Matters podcast This episode is the last of a special four-part series about issues facing rural higher education from our colleagues at the Rural Matters podcast. It is coproduced by MDRC and supported by Ascendium Education Group. As the United States confronts the recession caused by the pandemic, the economic stability of rural areas looms large. Many rural counties never economically rebounded from the 2008 recession, even as urban and suburban communities recovered. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2019 Rural America at a Glance Report identifies three reasons for the divergence in employment rates and salaries between urban and rural areas: an older population, a higher proportion of the population with disabilities, and lower educational attainment. In this episode, Rural Matters host Michelle Rathman chats with three experts about innovative programs to promote sustainable growth for rural communities and economic mobility for students: Matt Dunne, founder and executive director, the Center on Rural Innovation David Tandberg, senior vice president for policy research and strategic initiatives, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) Leslie Daugherty, an education designer at the Education Design Lab
58 minutes | Dec 6, 2020
Rural Higher Education: Challenges and Opportunities — Part III
A special series from the Rural Matters podcast This episode is the third of a special four-part series about issues facing rural higher education from our colleagues at the Rural Matters podcast. It is coproduced by MDRC and supported by Ascendium Education Group. Rural America is not monolithic. About 15 to 20 percent of rural individuals identify as non-white, but in many areas of the country the percentage is much higher. Even in predominantly white states, rural diversity is increasing faster than urban diversity, which is important for understanding rural issues, including promoting access to higher education and dealing with rural poverty. In this episode, Rural Matters host Michelle Rathman chats with four experts on diversity in rural communities and institutions of higher education: MDRC’s Alyssa Ratledge; Deborah Santiago, the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Excelencia in Education; Edward Smith-Lewis, Executive Director of UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building, a team dedicated to supporting the resiliency of HBCUs; and Noel Harmon, President and Executive Director of Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholars.
15 minutes | Dec 2, 2020
How Can Behavioral Science Help Programs Better Serve Clients During the Pandemic?
Why don't government social services programs better serve families struggling through crises like the COVID-19 pandemic? One reason is that these systems are designed for compliance over access. Many of those who are in need and qualify for benefits are deterred by administrative burdens, including excessive steps and paperwork. Insights from behavioral science can help agencies and nonprofits find ways to streamline their processes and simplify their communications with clients. In this episode of Evidence First, Leigh Parise interviews Rebecca Schwartz, a research analyst in MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science (CABS). Rebecca describes real-world examples of how CABS has worked with agencies to improve their service delivery to families. She also highlights how the federal government adopted an important behavioral technique — prospective eligibility — in the recent distribution of the CARES Act stimulus checks.
49 minutes | Nov 14, 2020
Rural Higher Education: Challenges and Opportunities — Part II
A special series from the Rural Matters podcast This episode is the second of a special four-part series about issues facing rural higher education from our colleagues at the Rural Matters podcast. It is coproduced by MDRC and supported by Ascendium Education Group. In this episode, Rural Matters host Michelle Rathman chats with four individuals committed to improving education in West Virginia: Danielle Vetter, Senior Program Officer at Ascendium Education Group; Stephanie Hyre, Senior Program Officer of The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation; Corley Dennison, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education; and Paul Daugherty, President & CEO of Philanthropy West Virginia. Vetter discusses Ascendium’s priorities in the rural space, including research, building capacity for postsecondary providers, and catalyzing investment and partnerships to create opportunities and open doors that may have been previously closed. Dennison notes how rural West Virginia really is and how important it is to initiate innovative programs, such as one designed to improve developmental education. Dennison also describes the main goal of West Virginia Climbs, supported by Ascendium, that 60 percent of workers in the state will have some kind postsecondary credentials by 2020. Daugherty explains how Philanthropy West Virginia promotes collaboration among government, businesses, nonprofits, and philanthropy to bolster communities, an effort that has taken on added significance during the pandemic, especially on the issues of food security and business and survival. Hyre describes the work of the Education Affinity Group, a subset of Philanthropy West Virginia whose priorities include early childhood literacy and postsecondary degree attainment.
42 minutes | Oct 29, 2020
Rural Higher Education: Challenges & Opportunities — Part I
This episode is the first of a special four-part series about issues facing rural higher education from our colleagues at the Rural Matters podcast. It is coproduced by MDRC and supported by Ascendium Education Group. COVID-19 has caused seismic shifts for postsecondary education. For rural colleges, the pandemic exacerbated issues that have affected students and communities for decades. While 41 percent of urban adults have a college degree, only 28 percent of rural adults do. The college access gap between rural and urban areas is sizable: In most states, rural high school students achieve graduation rates similar to urban and suburban counterparts, but their college enrollment rates are much lower. Rural communities have long been confronted with unique education challenges. Chief among them is the digital divide: Many rural areas lack adequate broadband internet infrastructure, which has become even more critical during the pandemic. Only 63 percent of rural adults say they have access to the internet at home, compared with 75 percent of urban adults. In areas where internet is available, it can be costly. And students may lack the technology they need to be successful in online learning. In this episode, Rural Matters host Michelle Rathman chats with MDRC’s Alyssa Ratledge; Dr. Jan Miller, Dean of the College of Education and the Director of Online Programs at the University of West Alabama; and Joe Thiel, Director of Academic Policy and Research for the Montana University System. They discuss some innovative programs that rural higher ed institutions are adopting to address the challenges faced by rural communities.
12 minutes | Oct 15, 2020
How Does the Dana Center Math Pathways Improve Students’ Success in Math?
Too many community college students get stuck in multi-semester developmental math sequences and never progress to or complete college-level courses. To meet this challenge, the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin developed the Dana Center Math Pathways (DCMP), which diversifies the math course content that students take so it better aligns with their career interests. The curriculum also encourages student-centered learning in small group formats. Researchers from the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness — a partnership between MDRC and the Community College Research Center — recently published an evaluation of DCMP in Texas. After three semesters, the study found that the DCMP had a positive impact on students’ completion of the developmental math sequence, increasing their likelihood of taking and passing college-level math and the number of math credits earned. Researchers also saw a small impact on early cohorts’ attainment of a certificate. To learn more about these encouraging results and what they mean for the field, Katie Beal spoke with Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow, a senior associate at MDRC and lead author of the study.
16 minutes | Jul 30, 2020
How Can Subsidized Jobs Help the Most Disadvantaged Workers Recover from the COVID-19 Recession?
Subsidized employment uses public funds to create jobs for the unemployed and are especially useful during economic downturns. Many have argued that subsidized employment programs should be part of policymakers’ response to pandemic-induced mass joblessness. MDRC has been studying subsidized employment for more than 40 years and recently completed two large-scale federal projects that rigorously tested 13 subsidized employment programs in eight states. The programs served very disadvantaged workers, such as people receiving cash assistance or people returning to the community from prison. To learn more about subsidized employment programs and how they can be designed to reach the most disadvantaged, Leigh Parise spoke with MDRC Senior Vice President Dan Bloom.
21 minutes | Jun 29, 2020
Can Schools Outside of New York City Replicate the CUNY ASAP Program?
The City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) provides comprehensive support services to community college students to help them stay enrolled and graduate. MDRC’s evaluation of ASAP at CUNY community colleges found that it nearly doubled graduation rates within three years — which are some of the largest impacts found among programs for community college students. To see if the program could work beyond New York City, CUNY, MDRC, and the Ohio Department of Higher Education worked with three Ohio community colleges to implement the ASAP model. Recent findings from MDRC’s evaluation show that the Ohio programs had similarly large impacts on student outcomes, illustrating that the program can be successfully replicated and serve as a model for community colleges across the country. To learn more about the Ohio results and what it takes to replicate and scale the successful ASAP model, Katie Beal spoke with Christine Brongniart, the University Executive Director of CUNY ASAP, and Camielle Headlam, a research associate at MDRC.
15 minutes | Jun 4, 2020
What Happens When You Combine an Accelerated Academic Program with Workplace Exposure and Career Skills?
New types of career and technical education programs are trying to prepare workers for an increasingly complex labor market. For high school students, this preparation can mean combining academic study with a strong career focus and hands-on work experience with an industry partner. MDRC is testing the effectiveness of this approach in an evaluation of the New York City P-TECH 9-14 school model. P-TECH 9-14 schools collaborate with local community colleges to allow students to earn high school diplomas and cost-free, industry-recognized associate’s degrees at the same time. During the six-year program, employer partners support P-TECH 9-14 schools by providing students with work-based learning experiences such as internships, mentoring, and job shadowing. Interim results show that after three years, students in P-TECH 9-14 schools earn about two more credits than students at other schools. Students in P-TECH 9-14 schools also pass state-level proficiency exams earlier and pass at higher rates. In this episode, Leigh Parise talks about the NYC P-TECH grades 9-14 high school model and MDRC’s study with Rachel Rosen, codirector of MDRC's Center for Effective Career and Technical Education and co-principal investigator on the study.
16 minutes | May 13, 2020
Accelerating Student Success Through Summer Enrollment
Community colleges graduation rates remain low. Some studies have shown that students who enroll in summer courses are more likely to stay on track and graduate, yet despite these benefits most college students do not attend during the summer. So why don’t students attend, and how can colleges encourage more of them to enroll in the summer? To answer these questions MDRC launched the Encouraging Additional Summer Enrollment — or EASE — project in partnership with the Ohio Association of Community Colleges and 10 community colleges in Ohio. MDRC designed, implemented, and tested two interventions to encourage summer enrollment, using insights from behavioral science, a study of how people make decisions. Both interventions worked to increase enrollment, and both could be operated at a relatively low cost. Join Leigh Parise as she talks about the EASE study with Caitlin Anzelone, deputy director of MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science.
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