A podcast hosted by Mathematica’s J.B. Wogan that examines what we know about today’s most urgent challenges and how we can make progress in addressing them. Reimagining the way the world gathers and uses data, Mathematica uncovers the evidence that offers our partners the confidence and clarity they need to find out what can be done, how to make it happen, and where to go next.
Maternal Health Care in India during and after the Pandemic
For more than two decades, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supported evidence-based programs in India that promote reproductive health and rights. As the foundation phased out its grantmaking related to population and reproductive health, it partnered with Mathematica to conduct a cumulative review of its efforts to improve maternal health in India.
The foundation’s maternal health quality of care strategy in India sought to improve the trajectory of health for women, children, and their families. Although the country had already made considerable progress in expanding access to maternal health services and, in the process, driving down the national maternal mortality ratio, the foundation and its grantees sought to improve the quality of these services, which is seen as a contributing factor in the pregnancy-related deaths that still occur today.
Because the Mathematica report was published in late February, it summarizes the state of maternal health in India up to, but not including, the COVID-19 pandemic. On this episode of On the Evidence, six guests discuss insights from the report and provide perspectives on how the pandemic has changed the supply and demand for maternal health services. The following guests appear in the episode:
- Dipa Nag Chowdhury, who served as the deputy director of the MacArthur Foundation’s India office
- So O’Neil, a Mathematica senior researcher and the lead author of the cumulative review of the MacArthur Foundation’s efforts to improve the quality of maternal health care in India
- Sharad Iyengar, a pediatrician and the chief executive of Action Research & Training for Health
- Renu Khanna, a co-founder of the SAHAJ-Society for Health Alternatives
- Vinoj Manning, chief executive officer at the Ipas Development Foundation
- Aparajita Gogoi, executive director of the Centre for Catalyzing Change
Find the report discussed in this episode here: https://bit.ly/3nUoolT
Find bonus interviews below:
Vinoj Manning: https://bit.ly/3l6GDmg
Renu Khanna: https://bit.ly/39ffJ9z
Sharad Iyengar: https://bit.ly/2UZfnvF
Aparajita Gogoi: https://bit.ly/2V2kbAw
Investing in Education for Success in the Long Run
In his research, Kirabo Jackson, an economist at Northwestern University, has explored the causal relationship between school spending and student outcomes. His work has also shed light on the role that teachers and schools play in helping students acquire skills and succeed in the long run.
Jackson is the 20th winner of the David N. Kershaw Award and Prize, established to recognize young professionals under the age of 40 who have made distinguished contributions to the field of public policy. David Kershaw, for whom the award is named, was a founder and the first president of Mathematica. In the spring of 1979, he helped guide the establishment of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) and Mathematica’s principal role within it, before his death from cancer later that year at the age of 37. The award in his memory was created in 1983 and has since been jointly administered by Mathematica and APPAM. The award is presented every other year at the APPAM Fall Research Conference in November.
In this episode of On the Evidence, Jackson discusses his research on education spending and on measuring the effects of teachers and schools on students’ long-term success.
On the Need to Build and Diversify the Teacher Pipeline
For about a decade, the national supply of teachers has steadily declined, a trend that is expected to continue even as the demand for new teachers is projected to increase. Not only do schools and school districts need enough teachers, but they want to recruit and retain effective teachers. Because evidence suggests that students of color benefit academically from having a teacher who shares their racial or ethnic identity, increasing the number of effective teachers likely means, among other things, that schools will need to increase the number Black, Latinx, and other teachers of color.
For this episode of On the Evidence, guests Sharif El-Mekki and Jill Constantine talk about the current challenges with recruiting and retaining teachers, especially Black male teachers, and what evidence-based practices may help.
El-Mekki is a former teacher and principal in Philadelphia and currently the chief executive officer of the Center for Black Educator Development, a nonprofit focused on increasing the number of Black educators in preK–12 education. He also writes an education blog called Philly's 7th Ward (https://phillys7thward.org/) and is a co-host of The 8 Black Hands Podcast (https://apple.co/37LK3YM). Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/selmekki.
Constantine is a senior vice president at Mathematica and an expert on teacher training and quality. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jconjazz.
Interested in digging into some of the latest research on retaining a diverse and effective teacher workforce? The Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic released a new study in October 2020 focused on the School District of Philadelphia: https://bit.ly/2HFGDMC
How to Reopen Schools Safely and With Minimal Disruptions
In mid-September, researchers from Mathematica partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Education to run 400,000 simulations intended to inform school operating and closure strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The simulations predict the level of spread of COVID-19 infection in schools, taking into account a range of factors. These factors include school type and size, the community infection rate, school mask policies and other precautions, in-person opening strategies, and potential school responses to detected infections.
For this episode of On the Evidence, guests Adam Schott and Brian Gill discuss the results and implications of these simulations. Schott is the special assistant to the secretary at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Gill is a senior fellow at Mathematica and one of the researchers who coauthored the report about the simulations.
Find a short summary of the top-line findings here: https://bit.ly/318rVEh
Read the full report discussed in this episode here: https://bit.ly/351QMuy
Check out a blog post explaining how school and community leaders could use the report to estimate the potential risks in their specific situation, based on the community infection rate; school type; school size; and the school’s operating, quarantining, and closure strategies: https://bit.ly/2SWBykV
Lessons from COVID-19 Impacts on Connecticut's Long-Term Care Facilities
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected people in long-term care settings, who only make up about 1 percent of the U.S. population but represented more than 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States in September. In Connecticut, that disproportionate impact was even more severe: as of July 30, about 72 percent of the state’s COVID-19-related deaths were among long-term care residents.
On this episode of On the Evidence, guests Patricia Rowan and Debra Lipson of Mathematica discuss their independent assessment of COVID-19’s impacts on nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Connecticut. Their final report, which published on Sept. 30, includes findings on why the pandemic was so devastating in the state’s long-term care facilities earlier in the year. It also recommends steps that the state and the long-term care industry can take to prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19 infections and for future infectious disease outbreaks. Although Mathematica conducted the assessment for the state of Connecticut, the report’s recommendations are intended to provide evidence-based guidance to policymakers in every state.
Find the final report and a short summary of the report's main findings here: https://bit.ly/3iEuiov
Blending Performance Measurement and Program Evaluation in Government
Although performance measurement and program evaluation are both ostensibly about assessing the effectiveness of government, they have historically meant different things in terms of what gets assessed and who does the assessing. Performance measurement is more commonly associated with ongoing monitoring and reporting of program accomplishments and is typically conducted by program or agency staff. Program evaluation, on the other hand, is more commonly associated with periodic or ad hoc studies conducted by experts outside of an agency or program.
But are those distinctions still relevant today? That’s one of the questions journalists Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene discuss in their new book, The Promises and Pitfalls of Performance-Informed Management.
In this episode of On the Evidence, Barrett and Greene talk about how state and local governments use performance measurement and program evaluation to inform management decisions, providing contemporary case studies along with historical context about how the field has evolved over the past three decades.
The episode covers the following topics:
- The integration of different but related disciplines of performance auditing, performance measurement, and program evaluation (19:42–22:23)
- The increasing availability of data and its effect on performance-informed management (22:26–26:40)
- Changes over time in how states value, understand, and use data in decision making (28:40–30:15)
- What the book might have covered about the two major stories of 2020—the COVID-19 pandemic and concern over persistent racism in the United States—if it had been published a few months later (30:14–37:05)
Other resources that we discuss on the episode are available here: https://bit.ly/35UYGbx
Barrett and Greene's full Q&A with Mathematica's Chief Executive Officer Paul Decker is available here: https://bit.ly/3kliU1S
Customer ReviewsSee All
Good at economics, not fantasy
If only Kristin was as good at fantasy football as she was at economic and policy.
-Her son who is better at fantasy football
The most cogent discussion of CMS transition to APM model
Best explanation of Medicare and Medicaid’s transition from FFS to APM... History, current research and challenges, and vision for the future I have ever had the privilege to hear. Great job to the moderator and each of the panel members!
On the Evidence provides the listener with important and practical approaches to solving entrenched problems. By challenging traditional approaches, and offering evidence to support innovation, each episode provides a nugget of wisdom that can be replicated in other locations.