Panel: Unlocking the Potential of Adminstrative Data
(Tools of Analysis: Methods, Data, Informatics and Research Design)

Friday, November 3, 2017: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Dusable (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Richard Hendra, MDRC
Panel Chairs:  James P. Ziliak, University of Kentucky
Discussants:  Kristin E. Porter, MDRC and Rekha Balu, MDRC

Using Program Administrative Data to Improve Program Retention
Brad Dudding, Center for Employment Opportunities

Using Linked Administrative Data to Understand the Relationship Between Foster Care and Children’s Academic Achievement
Vanessa Ríos-Salas, Maria Cancian, Lawrence Berger and Jennifer L. Noyes, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Using Longitudinal Administrative and Ethnographic Data to Understand the Dynamics of Payday Lending
Richard Hendra1, Kelsey Schaberg1, Stephen Nuñez1 and Lisa Servon2, (1)MDRC, (2)Russell Sage Foundation

Researchers and practitioners are increasingly exploiting administrative data to help shed light on critical policy problems. This panel will bring together work from researchers and practitioners in diverse fields who have extracted important insights on problems ranging from recidivism to prison, financial well-being, and child welfare. In all four papers, the authors found opportunities for gleening insights from datasets used for administrative purposes (such as tracking student outcomes, monitoring payments on loans, and tracking participants in social programs). All four papers used advanced analytics and, in a few cases, data integration, to derive important and policy actionable findings. They all represent the product of close collaborations between researchers and practitioners.

In the first paper, Vanessa Ríos-Salas from the University of Wisconsin will present on their efforts to integrate administrative records data on child welfare and educational outcomes to provide novel insights into how children placed in out-of-home foster care arrangements fare in school. The paper exploits the panel nature of the dataset they have constructed in order to reduce selection bias and provide important insights that have direct implications for child protection policy.

In the second paper, Brad Dudding (from the Center for Employment Opportunity) will discuss his research practitioner partnership with MDRC which involves application of machine learning techniques to predict which of CEO’s clients are most at-risk of dropping out of their nationally recognized program which uses peer supports and transitional employment to help reduce recidivism to the criminal justice system. This project has wide application to any programs which are concerned with the problem of client engagement/retention.

In the third paper, Rick Hendra from MDRC will discuss the latest results from the Subprime Lending Database Exploration Study. This study uses data provided by Clarity Services, the largest credit agency for subprime debt in the US. In this round of the study, MDRC is conducting a longitudinal analysis of the Clarity data to understand the movement into and out of debt and how policy and environmental factors affect those dynamics. The project is innovative due to the integration of administrative data with longitudinal ethnographic data.

In the fourth paper, Peter York from Community Science will present his work using child welfare data from the Broward County sheriff’s office. Using these administrative data, York and his colleagues built a predictive model which forecast with a high level of accuracy the likelihood that a case will return without another incident. This is very important and practical information for caseworkers because it can be used to accurately recommend if cases should go into either intensive out-of-home services or in-home community based programs. York and his colleagues find that the application of this model would lead to a 30 percent reduction in return cases.

Taken together, these four papers highlight the great promise from leveraging administrative analysis paired with advanced analytics. Overall the goal of this panel is to highlight the learning opportunities all around us provided by administrative data and the increasingly powerful tools to analyze them.