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Forensic Science State Commissions and Oversight Bodies – 2022 Update

Immigration, Citizenship, and the Federal Justice System, 2000-2020 – Supplemental Tables


Study of Teacher Coaching Based on Classroom Videos: Impacts on Student Achievement and Teachers’ Practices

“What Works” for Community College Students?

Making Early Literacy Policy Work: Three Considerations for Policymakers Based on Kentucky’s “Read to Succeed” Act


Developing a Community-Led Certification Process for Facility Power Outage Resilience

Innovative Financing of Wildfire Resilience

What (and Who) Counts? Defining Rural Development Success


Impacts of Basic Income on Health and Economic Well-Being: Evidence from the VA’s Disability Compensation Program

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Cataract Surgeries in the United States

June 17, 2022


In the United States, many states have established forensic science oversight bodies, which take many forms and have myriad roles and responsibilities. In all cases, however, these forensic science oversight bodies help ensure complete, accurate, and timely evidence collection and forensic analysis and the transparent, efficient, and effective operation of publicly funded crime laboratories. This report provides a review for states wishing to create and maintain a state forensic science oversight body. Recognizing the substantial differences that exist among states regarding governance, culture, statutes, and crime laboratory systems, this report provides an overview of considerations in planning for and developing a state-level forensic science oversight mechanism. Statewide oversight focuses on communication and collaboration among crime laboratories, allocation of resources, laboratory improvements, promulgation of accreditation and certification standards, investigations into misconduct or professional negligence, and other implementation and oversight issues.

Source: Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice

These tables supplement the Immigration, Citizenship, and the Federal Justice System, 1998-2018 report, which BJS published in August 2019. That was the first BJS report to comprehensively describe the citizenship of suspects arrested and prosecuted for federal offenses, and it highlighted trends from 1998 through 2018. These supplemental tables add 2019 and 2020 data to some of the tables from the original report. The original report found that 95% of the increase in federal arrests across 20 years were for immigration offenses, such as illegal entry into the United States. The supplemental data provides additional information on immigration suspects in matters concluded by federal prosecutors, by type of immigration offense and federal judicial districts for Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020 as well as data on the percent of immigration suspects who were federally prosecuted in U.S. district court by type of immigration offense. Over half of all immigration cases are disposed by federal prosecutors within three days of receiving the case.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice


Helping teachers become more effective in the classroom is a high priority for educators and policymakers. A growing body of evidence suggests that individualized coaching focused on general teaching practices can improve teachers’ instruction and student achievement. However, little is known about the benefits of specific approaches to coaching, including who is doing the coaching, how coaches observe teachers’ instruction, and how or how often coaches provide feedback to teachers. This study examined one promising strategy for individualized coaching: professional coaches—rather than district or school staff— providing feedback to teachers based on videos of their instruction. Feedback based on videos gives teachers the opportunity to observe and reflect on their own teaching and allows coaches to show teachers specific moments from their teaching when providing feedback. For this study, 107 elementary schools were randomly divided into three groups: one that received fewer highly structured cycles of focused professional coaching during a single school year (five cycles), one that received more (eight cycles), and one that continued with its usual strategies for supporting teachers. The study compared teachers’ experiences and student achievement across the three groups to determine the effectiveness of the two versions of the coaching. The study found that five coaching cycles based on videos of teachers’ instruction improved students’ achievement, including for novice teachers and those teachers who begin the study with weaker classroom practices. However, teachers that received eight cycles of coaching did not improve student achievement, thus results should be interpreted cautiously.

Source: Institute of Education Sciences

What works to help community college students progress academically? This research brief synthesizes 20 years of rigorous research by MDRC, presenting new evidence about key attributes of community college interventions that are positively related to larger impacts on students’ academic progress. Findings are based on a synthesis of evidence from 30 randomized controlled trials of 39 postsecondary interventions involving 60,000 students. The results of this research consistently indicate that the impacts of community college interventions increase with: the comprehensiveness of the intervention, as measured by its number of components; and the promotion of full-time enrollment (during fall and spring) and summer enrollment. The report also finds promising evidence that suggests the impacts of community college interventions also increase with the extent that the community colleges increase advising use among students, tutoring among students, and financial support for students.

Source: MDRC

In recent decades, state policymakers across the country have turned to early literacy policies to address students’ reading proficiency—particularly in third grade. Though states’ policies vary widely in terms of the interventions and supports provided to educators and students, their intent is similar: to get students reading on grade level by the end of third grade. As of 2021, 46 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) have at least one policy related to third-grade literacy. Nineteen of these states have retention-based policies—meaning that they identify for retention third graders whose state assessment results fall below an established cut score. This brief reviews the research on early literacy policies and concludes that while they may be effective at improving student achievement in the short term, these policies do not include a full range of best practices in literacy instruction. Considering the ultimate goal of improving students’ early reading skills, this brief provides recommendations for policymakers to create effective literacy legislation, including that instead of limiting the legislation to the “Big Five” components of reading, include a set of instructional best practices in literacy, and to ensure initial, ongoing, and targeted professional development in literacy for K-3 teachers.

Source: National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado Boulder

Government Operations

With an increase in the frequency and intensity of severe weather events that affect electric distribution infrastructure, there is an urgent need to define power outage resilience and identify methods to assess and certify whether and how planning actions and project implementations have made communities more resilient. Accordingly, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center initiated the Clean Energy and Resiliency (CLEAR) program to provide technical services to nine community sites in the commonwealth, which formed the basis of a convenience sample for this study. For this study, researchers conducted stakeholder interviews and a literature review to articulate power outage resilience metrics, piloted a certification program, and used focus groups to assess pathways to the CLEAR program's operationalization and administration. The authors found that definitions of power outage resilience vary widely and that qualitative and quantitative criteria are required for a comprehensive assessment of power outage resilience. Additionally, the authors found that even partial completion of the CLEAR program increased broader community awareness of power outage resilience for and beyond the facility under certification. However, the authors also noted that even with technical services support, completing certification was demanding on time and resources absent additional programmatic support.

Source: RAND Corporation

As wildfires increase in scale and intensity, various stakeholders now have new incentives to participate and address the wildfire crisis together. The Aspen Institute Energy and Environment Program and The Nature Conservancy brought together leading experts to discuss how innovative financing structures and private capital might be used to increase investments in resilience, and therefore reduce the negative wildfire impacts that are threatening more and more areas. This workshop highlighted effective models such as environmental impact bonds, partnerships with utilities, and new insurance products as solutions to build resilience. This report summarizes lessons learned from these models, future policy changes at federal and state levels that could scale efforts and contribute to the paradigm shift necessary for the country to adapt to climate change driven wildfire increases, and other key points of conversation.

Source: Aspen Institute

This article brings together four well-respected rural development practitioners to share their distinct perspectives on how we can better define rural development success. Shanna Ratner shares the wealth creation framework as a way of achieving realignment, economic inclusivity, and resilience at a regional scale. Ines Polonius highlights the possibilities of “Community-Centered Measurement,” which focuses on locally defined progress, equity participation, unique place & context, and relativity. Mark Gabriel Little notes the importance of measuring increases in power — especially shifts in political and financial power for BIPOC communities. Anita Brown-Graham examines the health and wealth of networks for improving educational achievement and equitable development. All four sections emphasize that there are no easy solutions for the many challenges that rural American faces, but what is clear is that rural communities themselves must drive change and transformation.

Source: Aspen Institute

Health and Human Services

The authors study impacts of a cash transfer program with no means-test and no work restrictions: the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Disability Compensation program. The authors’ empirical strategy leverages quasi-random assignment of veterans claiming mental disorder disability to examiners who vary in their assessing tendencies. The authors find that an additional $1,000 per year in transfers decreases food insecurity and homelessness by 4.1% and 1.3% over five years, while the number of collections on VA debts declines by 6.4%. Despite facing virtually no direct monetary costs, healthcare utilization increases by 2.5% over the first five years, with greater engagement in preventive care and improved medication adherence. This demand response is in part explained by the ability to overcome indirect costs of accessing care. Additionally, VA-conducted surveys suggest that transfers improve communication and trust between veterans and VA clinicians, leading to greater overall satisfaction. Apart from a reduction in self-reported pain, the authors found no significant effects for the transfer on mental and physical health, including depression, alcohol and substance use disorders, body mass index, blood pressure, and glucose levels.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted every aspect of health-care delivery in the United States. For example, during the first two months of the pandemic there was a dramatic decrease in preventative and elective care, which impacted modalities ranging from imaging and procedures to laboratory tests and vaccinations. The field of ophthalmology was not immune to the impact of the pandemic. Notably, one study using surgical claims processed through Change Healthcare found that cataract surgeries were initially reduced early in the 2020 pandemic year but then rebounded to 2019 volume by the end of the year. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of the pandemic on cataract surgery rates among a portion of the higher-risk population: Medicare beneficiaries. We found no significant change in annual rate of cataract surgery during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic year when correcting for the annual decline in enrollment being observed in traditional Medicare due to increased uptake of Medicare Advantage Plans. The rates of routine and complex cataract surgery were not impacted by the pandemic when examined in 12-month intervals. These findings are consistent with another study of elective surgical procedures in the US from a nationwide health-care clearinghouse in which the rate of cataract surgery declined precipitously during the initial seven weeks of the pandemic but rebounded to 2019 rates by the fall and winter of 2020.

Source: Clinical ophthalmology

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