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Wearable Sensor Technology and Potential Uses Within Law Enforcement: Identifying High-Priority Needs to Improve Officer Safety, Health, and Wellness Using Wearable Sensor Technology

Racial Disparities in Motor Vehicle Searches Cannot Be Justified by Efficiency

Alternatives to Arrests and Police Responses to Homelessness


Exploring Coherence in English Language Arts Instructional Systems in the Common Core Era

The Transfer Landscape: A Survey of College Officials

Expanding the Arts Across the Juvenile Justice System

Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic: It Is Not Who You Teach, but How You Teach


State Insights on Renewing a Cross-Government for Water Affordability

The U.S. Essential Workforce Ages 50 and Older: A Snapshot

Economic Benefits of COVID-19 Screening Tests


Organ Transplants: Changes in Allocation Policies for Donated Livers and Lungs

The COVID-19 Hazard Continues, But the Hazard Pay Does Not: Why America’s Essential Workers Need a Raise

November 13, 2020


Many wearable sensor technology devices on the market enable individuals and organizations to track and monitor personal health metrics in real time. These devices are worn by the user and contain sensors to capture various biomarkers. Although these technologies are not yet sufficiently developed for law enforcement purposes overall, wearable sensor technology devices continue to advance rapidly and offer the potential to equip law enforcement officers and agencies with data to improve officer safety, health, and wellness. For example, in the short term, they provide information on the officer's physical condition, fitness, and readiness. In the long term, they could be used to alert officers to emerging health concerns. Key findings from this report include that current wearable sensor technology devices are not sufficiently developed for law enforcement purposes overall because they lack the accuracy and precision needed to inform and support decision-making. The short-term focus should be on preparing for a time when technology will be more applicable to law enforcement roles. Now is the time for law enforcement to participate in the process of developing wearable sensor technology devices.

Source: RAND Corporation

During traffic stops, police search black and Hispanic motorists more often than white motorists, yet those searches are equally or less likely to yield contraband. The authors ask whether equalizing search rates by motorist race would reduce contraband yield. They use unique administrative data from Texas to isolate variation in search behavior across highway patrol troopers and find that, across troopers, search rates are unrelated to the proportion of searches that yield contraband. These results imply that, in partial equilibrium, troopers can equalize search rates across racial groups, maintain the status quo search rate, and increase contraband yield.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

In response to unsheltered homelessness, communities often turn to punitive responses: issuing ordinances that criminalize homelessness, clearing homeless encampments, and arresting people. This results in people becoming trapped in a cycle of homelessness and jail. Until housing is available at the scale needed to end homelessness, communities can improve outcomes for people enduring unsheltered homelessness and for the community as a whole by considering promising innovations that prioritize inclusive public space management and shift the role of law enforcement agencies from policing homelessness to solving homelessness in partnerships with service providers. This report reviews the evidence for housing as the solution to homelessness and emerging evidence for inclusive public space and alternative crisis response policies and practices.

Source: Urban Institute


Coherence among components of an instructional system is key to changing teachers' instructional practices in standards-based reforms. Coherence involves working across traditional silos—or system components (e.g., curriculum, professional learning, assessment)—to integrate components to avoid fragmentation of experiences for educators and students. The authors set out to understand how districts and schools are activating various policy levers (i.e., instructional components) to drive instructional coherence and student learning in English language arts in the Common Core era. The authors investigate the coherence of teachers' instructional systems using survey data from state-representative samples of teachers and smaller samples of district leaders across three states: Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Findings include (1) few English language arts teachers used standards-aligned curriculum materials in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, while most did in Louisiana; (2) in classrooms composed of more than half students of color, teachers were more likely to use standards-aligned materials than those with fewer; (3) teachers generally received multiple supports to implement their curriculum materials, but elementary teachers were more likely to receive these supports than teachers at higher grades; (4) teachers differed tremendously by states in their English language arts instructional systems, with teachers in Louisiana reporting teaching in systems that show evidence of far greater coherence; and (5) there is greater evidence of incoherent instructional systems for teachers serving more students with disabilities and for elementary teachers.

Source: RAND Corporation

Given the environment surrounding higher education and the workforce, it seems like this should be transfer's moment. Transferring from one college to another has historically been harder than it should be, with impediments at many points along the way. The incentives for institutions and students to smooth out the process right now are greater than ever before, given the current and pending declines in traditional college-age students, the likelihood that COVID-19 will scramble students' college-going patterns, and the societal push for racial equity that is increasing pressure on colleges to diversify their student bodies. A new survey, however, underscores some of the attitudes and practices that have historically impeded the path for transfer students -- and identifies perceptual gaps between administrators at two-year and four-year colleges that could be difficult to overcome. Among the key findings of the report, which queried administrators who are involved with transfer policies or practices at two- or four-year colleges: roughly three-quarters of administrators at two-year and four-year colleges alike agree that students who transfer from one institution to another perform as well as or better at the receiving institution than do students who began at that institution. Additionally, o two-year college officials give themselves higher ratings at preparing students for transfer than do their four-year-college counterparts -- but even the community college officials don't rate themselves very highly. Officials from all institutions overwhelmingly agree that a, "centralized approach to credit evaluation works better for transfer student enrollment" than does leaving those decisions up to individual departments and professors. But four-year college administrators are two to three times likelier than their two-year-college peers to agree that, "faculty experts in individual academic departments are effective at deciding which and how many credits students may transfer to a major program."

Source: Inside Higher Ed

In a one-day count in 2018, an estimated 37,529 youths resided in juvenile placement facilities across the United States. While the estimated number of juveniles in residential placement facilities has dropped by more than half over 20 years, alternative placement to other government juvenile facilities continues to remove youths from their community and education, creating inequitable, unreliable or inaccessible opportunities to engage in the arts. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified persistent inequities in the juvenile justice system, particularly access to resources related to youth well-being and developmental success, such as the arts. This report identifies considerations for effective and sustainable arts-based programming, identifies the key actors in policy and implementation for arts education, and considers the state and federal policy opportunities and barriers for implementing arts-based programming in juvenile justice systems.

Source: Education Commission of the States

The authors use standardized end-of-course knowledge assessments to examine student learning during the disruptions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Examining seven economics courses taught at four U.S. institutions classified as R1 doctoral universities with very high research activity, they find that students performed substantially worse, on average, in Spring 2020 when compared to Spring or Fall 2019. They find no evidence that the effect was driven by specific demographic groups. However, their results suggest that teaching methods that encourage active engagement, such as the use of small group activities and projects, played an important role in mitigating this negative effect. The results point to methods for more effective online teaching as the pandemic continues.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Government Operations

This report explores what constitutes good water governance through the lenses of water affordability and equity. While the topic was selected prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the pandemic has further revealed and exacerbated health and financial disparities across racial, gender, and geographic lines. The water sector has a unique opportunity to rethink how governments build the water infrastructure grid. Communities are still living on subsidized investments made by the federal government for water infrastructure from the 1950s to the 1980s. Ratepayers cannot finance that scale of investment to rebuild currently failing infrastructure. Going forward, the federal government will need to subsidize replacement costs and/or rethink current water infrastructure, particularly treatment technologies. This is especially true in the midst of the ongoing pandemic and economic recession. The economy cannot recover in communities that do not have clean water or sanitation. The costs of a modern water infrastructure grid could be less expensive if rebuilt differently. Envisioning a new water grid requires identifying what works and does not work with the current system. This includes revisiting plumbing codes, fire suppression systems, or centralized treatment technologies. The water sector must take this opportunity to shift its water paradigm before spending trillions to rebuild a water grid that struggles to meet the needs of the 21st century. A modern water grid must be equitable, sustainable, and affordable. A utility that is affordable for the community will be more affordable for their customers, including individual households.

Source: Aspen Institute

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the essential workforce. Spread across many industries and occupational groups, these workers have kept vital parts of the U.S. critical infrastructure, economy, and health care system in operation. Many of these essential workers, totaling about 16.1 million, are ages 50 and older. Women are more likely than men to be essential workers. Among workers ages 50+, 33.2% of women are designated as essential, compared with 27.2% of men. Among all race/ethnicities, Black/African American workers are most likely to be designated as essential. Black/African American women are the demographic of workers ages 50+ who are most likely to be essential workers. Despite the vital importance of the work they are doing, particularly during the pandemic, many U.S. essential workers of all ages, including the 50+, earn low wages.

Source: AARP Public Policy Institute

The authors assess the economic value of screening testing programs as a policy response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. They find that the fiscal, macroeconomic, and health benefits of rapid SARS-CoV-2 screening testing programs far exceed their costs, with the ratio of economic benefits to costs typically in the range of 4-15 (depending on program details), not counting the monetized value of lives saved. Unless the screening test is highly specific, however, the signal value of the screening test alone is low, leading to concerns about adherence. Confirmatory testing increases the net economic benefits of screening tests by reducing the number of healthy workers in quarantine and by increasing adherence to quarantine measures.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Health and Human Services

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) develops allocation policies in the United States to determine which transplant candidates receive offers for organs, such as livers or lungs, that are donated from deceased donors. In July 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees OPTN, directed it to change the liver allocation policy to be more consistent with federal regulations. The liver allocation policy changed in February 2020 from a system that, in general, offered donated livers first to the sickest candidates within the fixed boundaries of a donation service area or region to a system based on a candidate's level of illness and distance from the donor hospital. The current liver allocation policy offers livers first to the sickest candidates within 500 nautical miles of the donor hospital using a series of distance-based concentric circles, called acuity circles. This report outlines the changes to the liver allocation policy and the similarities and differences in the processes OPTN used to change the liver and lung allocation policies, and federal oversight of these processes, among other things.

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

The United States has entered a third peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with cases spiking across the country. Many experts anticipate that the winter months will be the worst yet, and a new study projects that the U.S. could surpass 500,000 COVID-19 deaths by the end of February. As the U.S. begins this even deadlier phase of the pandemic, the country’s 50 million frontline essential workers are among the most vulnerable. This report looks at the state of hazard pay for COVID-19’s frontline essential workers. The unequal sacrifices shouldered by low-wage frontline workers require policy solutions such as federal hazard pay during the pandemic and a higher minimum wage so that workers permanently earn a living wage. The pandemic has laid bare the wide gap between the low wages that frontline workers earn and the essential value they bring to society.

Source: Brookings Institution

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