Panel: Utilizing Behavioral Insights to Inform Federal Education Policy

Friday, November 9, 2018: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
8219 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Dennis Kramer, University of Florida; U.S. General Services Administration
Discussants:  Daniel Klasik, Stanford University

Increasing Responses to National School Lunch Program Income Verification Requests
Michael Hand1,2, Dennis Kramer2,3 and Nuole Chen2,4, (1)U.S. Forest Service, (2)U.S. General Services Administration, (3)University of Florida, (4)University of Illinois

Increasing FAFSA Completion Among HUD-Assisted Youth
Michael DiDomenico, U.S. General Services Administration

Identifying Students for the Education for Homeless Children & Youth Program
Daniel Shephard, Implementation Science & Communication Strategies Group, Crystal Hall, University of Washington and Cait Lamberton, University of Pittsburgh

This panel consists of four randomized control trials (RCTs) conducted by academics and researchers from the Office of Evaluation Sciences (OES) in partnership with a variety of U.S. federal agencies supporting education-based initiatives. Results from each study highlight potential areas where Federal agencies can apply low cost changes to improve outcomes. OES is an interdisciplinary team that brings diverse scientific expertise to translate research insights into concrete recommendations for how to improve Federal programs, policies, and operations. OES then collaborates directly with agencies to implement, rigorously test, and evaluate the impact of these changes. . OES has completed over 50 evaluations since 2015, partnering with over a dozen federal agencies, and collaborating with scholars from a variety of academic disciplines.

The first RCT examines the impact of a timing change on Federal program requests for income verification. This study examines the effects of the moving to a rolling income verification process for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Results demonstrated that the implementation of rolling income verification increased response rates within some districts, but had an adverse or no impact in others. Results of this study are informing future areas of more detailed investigation to improve State guidance and income verification processes.

The second RCT examines the potential role of targeted communications on increasing the number of FAFSA application among HUD-assisted youth. Specifically, this study tests a series of four physical mailers, three robo-calls, and if the household provided an email address, four email messages on the effectiveness of overcoming known information barriers.

The third RCT tests the effect of modified communication to school district leaders and program staff members to increase accuracy in identifying homeless youth. Leveraging existing communications to homeless youth coordinators, this study randomly assigns school districts to receive a redesigned communication and estimates the effect on the identification of homeless youth.

The final RCT examines the intersection between education and the public health sector. Working with a local public health agency, this study examines the impact of immunization compliance “report cards” on school-level immunization rates. This study illustrates the potential of state immunization information systems (IIS) to provide school-level data and comparative immunization rates to school leadership. The study adds to the understanding of the role of school-based reports cards for improving health-related outcomes among students.

Discussants for this panel are both from academic and federal education policy arenas. They will offer perspective on the contributions of the panel both to the academic literature and federal education policy and procedures. Insights on conducting RCTs within federal government partners will be an underlying theme of each presentation. The panel will be of interest to both academics and education policymakers.

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