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This brief uses Texas Department of Public Safety data to measure the conviction and arrest rates of illegal immigrants by crime. In Texas in 2015, the criminal conviction and arrest rates for immigrants were well below those of native-born Americans. Moreover, the conviction and arrest rates for illegal immigrants were lower than those for native-born Americans. This result holds for most crimes.
Raising Blended Learners is a statewide initiative to seed and scale personalized learning across Texas in an effort to improve student achievement across diverse demographics, particularly among schools and districts with persistent achievement gaps.
As part of this initiative, Raise Your Hand Texas commissioned FSG to conduct a 4-year evaluation of the program's impact on students and schools and the success of the initiative as a whole. Last year, FSG wrote about the 2015-2016 planning and selection year of Raising Blended Learners, how the program was designed, and how the planning process was experienced by participants.
In Year 1 Evaluation Report, we share our developmental evaluation of the 5 demonstration sites to understand the early stages of how models are being implemented, how sites are defining success, and how early success and challenges are being experienced.
Americans bear a large and growing share of their health care costs in the form of high deductibles and insurance premiums, as well as copayments and, sometimes, coinsurance for physician office visits and hospitalizations. Historically, the health care system has not made it easy for people to find out how much their care will cost them out of pocket. But, in recent years, insurers, state governments, employers and other entities have been trying to make price information more easily available to individuals and families. Are Americans trying to find out about health care prices today? Do they want more information? What sources would they trust to deliver it?
This nationally representative research finds 50 percent of Americans have tried to find health care price information before getting care, including 20 percent who have tried to compare prices across multiple providers. Representative surveys in four states— New York, Texas, Florida and New Hampshire—show higher percentages of residents in Texas, Florida and New Hampshire have tried to find price information and have compared prices than New York residents and Americans overall. This variation suggests factors at the state level might be influencing how many people try to find out about health care costs. Nationally and in those four states, more than half of people who compared prices report saving money. Most Americans overall think it is important for their state governments to provide comparative price information. But we found limited awareness that doctors' prices vary and limited awareness that hospitals' prices vary.
Public Agenda conducted this research with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New York State Health Foundation. The findings are based on a nationally representative survey of 2,062 adults, ages 18 and older, and a set of representative surveys in four states: one survey of 802 adults in New York, one of 808 adults in Texas, one of 819 adults in Florida and one of 826 adults in New Hampshire. The surveys were conducted from July through September 2016 by telephone, including cell phones, and online.
Environmental Working Group;
As the southern Great Plains get hotter and drier, is federal policy that encourages farmers not to adapt to climate change leading to another Dust Bowl?
That's the troubling question raised by a new EWG report that shows how a provision in the federal crop insurance program provides a strong financial incentive for growers to plant the same crops in the same way, year in and year out, regardless of changing climate conditions. What's worse, this program is focused on the same southern Great Plains counties hit hardest by the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the worst man-made environmental disaster in American history.
The federal crop insurance program guarantees farmers' earnings from their crops won't fall below a percentage of their usual income. The percentage is set based on a multi-year average of a farmer's actual crop yields. Averaging good and bad years grounds the program in reality.
But a provision called the Actual Production History Yield Exclusion – snuck into the 2014 Farm Bill during conference negotiations – allows growers to drop bad years from their average crop yield calculations. The government simply pretends these bad years didn't happen. In some cases, more than 15 bad years can be thrown out when calculating the average yield, resulting in artificially inflated insurance payouts.
It makes sense for crop insurance to give growers a break if they're occasionally hit by one or two bad years, but keeping growers on a treadmill of failed crops and insurance payouts is foolish. Helping farmers adapt to the new weather conditions would be considerably better, and was exactly what helped growers survive the Dust Bowl and return to productivity.
The southern Great Plains are getting hotter and drier. Drought has been common over the last 10 years and forecasts show the number of days above 100 degrees quadrupling by 2050. Implementing conservation practices to adapt to changing climate conditions is vital for growers who want to stay in business.
Some, but not enough, growers are already adopting conservation techniques in this region. Savings from ending the misguided yield exclusion policy could be used to help more growers change the way they farm to face the challenges posed by a changing climate.
Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice;
In 2014, the University of Minnesota's Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice began a multi-state study that was tasked with exploring nationwide variations in the practices and policies of probation violations and revocations. A distinctive finding that grew out of the Robina Institute's work in two Texas counties was that probation supervision fees play a major role throughout the state. Probationers are required as one of 25 standard conditions to pay supervision fees, and—depending on the case— they may have to pay additional program fees, fines, and restitution. Texas probation departments depend on supervision fees for a large share of their operating budgets, and they are responsible for collecting those fees. Because payment of fees is a formal condition of probation, probationers may be sanctioned if they fall delinquent. Additionally, their probation terms may be extended to allow more time to pay, or early termination may be denied. In interviews, some probationers believed they could be revoked to jail or prison for failure to pay supervision fees. However, we heard from probation officers that probationers were not revoked solely for fees. The officers told us that nonpayment may be one reason probationers are revoked, but only when combined with other violations.
The Robina Institute was encouraged by other probation chiefs in Texas to add additional counties to our study. To understand the interaction between probation and criminal justice fees in greater depth, the Robina Institute conducted a mixed methods study with 4 probation jurisdictions in Texas. Quantitative data was analyzed to examine the average amount of fees ordered, the breakdown of the fees ordered, and the percent of probationers who were current and delinquent on their fees. The quantitative analysis also examined the outcomes for those who were delinquent on their fees. Qualitative interviews were conducted with probationers to understand how fees impacted them and their experience of probation, as well as how they handled paying their fees. Probation officers were also interviewed to examine how fees were utilized and how officers collected fees.
This report highlights some of the findings from qualitative interviews with over 50 probation officers and 46 probationers in 4 probation jurisdictions. A separate report highlights our quantitative findings; future Robina Institute publications will explore the quantitative and qualitative data in greater depth, as well as legal issues associated with the imposition and collection of supervision fees.
The first section of this report presents findings from the focus groups with the probation officers. The second section focuses on findings from the probationer focus groups.
Center for Health Policy at Brookings;
The health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were intended to broaden health insurance coverage by making it relatively easy for the uninsured, armed with income-related federal subsidies, to choose health plans that met their needs from an array of competing options. The further hope was that competition among health plans on the exchanges would lead to lower costs and higher value for consumers, because inefficient, low-value plans would lose out in the competitive market place. This study sought to understand the diverse experience in five states under the ACA in order to gain insights for improving competition in the private health insurance industry and the implementation of the ACA.
In spring 2016, the insurance marketplaces had been operating for nearly three full years. There were numerous press stories of plans' decisions to enter or leave selected states or market areas within states and to narrow provider networks by including fewer choices among hospitals, medical specialists, and other providers. There were also beginning to be stories of insurer requests for significant premium increases. However, there was no clear understanding of how common these practices were, nor how and why practices differed across carriers, markets, and state regulatory settings.
This project used the ACA Implementation Research Network to conduct field research in California, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas. In each state, expert field researchers engaged directly with marketplace stakeholders, including insurance carriers, provider groups, state regulators, and consumer engagement organizations, to identify and understand their various decisions. This focus included an effort to understand why carriers choose to enter or exit markets and the barriers they faced, how provider networks were built, and how state regulatory decisions affected decision-making. Ultimately, it sought to find where and why certain markets are successful and competitive and how less competitive markets might be improved.
The study of five states was not intended to provide statistically meaningful generalizations about the functioning of the marketplace exchanges. Rather, it was intended to accomplish two other objectives. First, the study was designed to generate hypotheses about the development and evolution of the exchanges that might be tested with "harder" data from all the exchanges. Second, it sought to describe the potentially idiosyncratic nature of the marketplaces in each of the five states. Political and economic circumstances may differ substantially across markets. Policymakers and market participants need to appreciate the nuances of different local settings if programs are to be successful. What works in Michigan may not work in Texas and vice versa. Field research of this sort can give researchers and policymakers insight into how idiosyncratic local factors matter in practice.
In brief, our five states had four years of experience in the open enrollment periods from 2014 through 2017. The states array themselves in a continuum of apparent success in enhancing and maintaining competition among insurers. California and Michigan appear to have had success in nurturing insurer competition, in at least the urban areas of their states. Florida, North Carolina, and Texas were less successful. This divergence is recent, however. As recently as the 2015 and 2016 open enrollment periods, all of the states had what appeared to be promising, if not always robust, insurance competition. Large changes occurred in the run-up to the 2017 open enrollment period.
University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work, Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault;
Currently, there are approximately 79,000 minor and youth victims of sex trafficking in Texas.
Currently, there are approximately 234,000 workers who are victims of labor trafficking in Texas.
Currently, there arean estimated 313,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas.
Minor and youth sex trafficking costs the state of Texas approximately $6.6 billion. Traffickers exploit approximately $600 million from victims of labor trafficking in Texas.
Though human trafficking is widespread in geographically large states with large urban centers like Texas, the true scope of this hidden crime is largely unconfirmed as data on human trafficking are difficult to ascertain. Existing data gathered in anti-trafficking efforts focus almost exclusively on identified victims, shedding light on only a fraction of the problem. The first phase of the Statewide Human Trafficking Mapping Project of Texas focused on providing empiricallygrounded data as a benchmark about the extent of human trafficking across the state. The following three primary research questions guided our data collection efforts, which included queries of existing databases, interviews, focus groups, and web-based surveys.
1.What is the prevalence of human trafficking in Texas?
2.What is the economic impact of human trafficking in Texas?
3.What is our understanding of human trafficking in Texas?
The findings in this report were derived using a multi-methods approach to quantify the prevalence and economic impact of human trafficking in Texas. Higher-than-average risk industry and community segments were chosen for sex and labor markets. We defined community segments asgroups of people considered to be at higher-than-average risk of trafficking because of risk indicators found in trafficking cases (e.g. homelessness). More specifically, rather than attempting to establish prevalence of trafficking among the 27.4 million people living in Texas, for the purposes of demonstrating our methodology, establishing some benchmarks on human trafficking prevalence and economic impact estimates, and providing a concrete example of our planned activities moving forward, victimization rates were applied to a select few community segments that are at higher-than-average risk of trafficking.The methodology has addressed the critical industry and community segments to accurately estimate prevalencewhile reducing overlap between the chosen segments.
Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy;
Firearm violence takes a tragic toll on society. Recent data shows there are more than 81,000 nonfatal firearm injuries and 33,000 deaths —nearly two-thirds of which are suicides —peryearin the United States. Effective solutions to reduce gun violence demand a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy. The Consortium for Risk-Based FirearmPolicy (Consortium), a group of the nation's leading experts in public health, mental health, and gun violence prevention, came together in March 2013 to address this complex issue. These esteemed researchers, practitioners, and advocates developed evidence-based gun violence prevention policy recommendations to reduce access to firearms by people who are at an increased risk of dangerous behavior. This analysis from the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (Ed Fund) examines how Texaslawcompares to the Consortium's recommendations and outlines stepsTexasshould take immediately to prohibit individuals at increased risk of dangerous behavior from accessing firearms. The evidence supporting these recommendations is presented in the full ConsortiumReport: Guns, Public Health, and Mental Illness: An Evidence-Based Approach for State Policy.
Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice;
The Texas Board of Pardon Advisors was created in 1893 to assist the governor in exercising pardoning and release powers; its name was changed to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in 1929. Texas has long had an indeterminate sentencing system in which the legislature has granted judges and the paroling authority a very broad range of discretion, especially for first-degree felonies (five to ninety-nine years). Texas does not have a sentencing commission or sentencing guidelines.
Health Care Cost Institute;
Children's Health Spending: 2010-2014 examines spending on health care for children covered by employer-sponsored insurance from 2010 to 2014. For the first time, HCCI analyzed children's health care spending trends at the state level, reporting on Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.
Per capita spending on health care for children grew an annual average of 5.1% per year between 2010 and 2014, reaching $2,660 in 2014.
Rising prices were the chief driver of growth in spending for children's health care in 2014.
At the same time, there was a general decline in the use of health care services between 2012 and 2014.
Among the states studied, Arizona had the lowest per capita spending ($2,151 per child in 2014), while Wisconsin had higher per capita and out-of-pocket spending than the national average in every year studied – reaching $3,017 per capita in 2014.
Children At Risk;
Each year, CHILDREN AT RISK reexamines its methodology of ranking schools to ensure that the rankings most accurately reflects school performance, utilizes the most appropriate data available, and incorporates feedback from educators, researchers, and service providers.
CHILDREN AT RISK is pleased to have completed the 2016 Annual School Rankings.
Student Achievement Index – Performance on STAAR Reading and Math tests
Campus Performance Index – An adjustment of achievement indicators to eliminate bias toward campuses with low percentages of economically disadvantaged students
Growth Index – The improvement over time on standardized test scores in Reading, English, and Math
College Readiness Index - graduation rates, SAT/ACT participation rate and scores, and AP/IB participation rate and scores
Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice;
This report summarizes findings from interviews with criminal justice professionals involved in probation violations and revocations in 2 rural counties in Texas, as well as from a sample of individuals on probation. The profile also describes the organizational structure and demographics of probation within these counties. Dealing with probation violations in a small rural county can be difficult because of limited resources that are available to respond to violations. There are limited treatment options and other community based sanctions as well as virtually no public transportation to assist probationers then there are options. Probation officers stated they would like more services to help probationers deal with issues such as drug problems, criminogenic thinking, and mental health.