Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Urban Institute Releases Promise Neighborhoods Data Guidance

Last month, the Urban Institute, a non-partisan organization that conducts research and program evaluation related to national fiscal and social issues, published a guidance document to assist Promise Neighborhoods and other place-based neighborhood revitalization efforts in planning for the collection of data, use of data to drive program improvement, and demonstration of results. The document includes a wealth of information about best practices in areas ranging from developing data systems to designing community surveys, as well as a number of practical tools, including sample questionnaire items, consent forms, and data sharing agreements.

Entitled "Measuring Performance: A Guidance Document for Promise Neighborhoods on Collecting Data and Reporting Results," the document, which was prepared for the U.S. Department of Education, provides detailed information about how communities with federal Promise Neighborhoods Implementation grants can help ensure they are collecting the data necessary to complete reporting on the indicators (such as graduation rate, and the number and percent of children birth to kindergarten entry who have a place other than an emergency room where they regularly go for medical care and advice) required through the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). The document also includes suggestions around and tools and templates for collecting and using data to assess progress that are more broadly applicable to communities using a Promise Neighborhoods or similar type of place-based approach. The guidance draws on the Urban Institute's experience working on data issues with the first five communities to receive Promise Neighborhoods Implementation Grants as well as their knowledge of best practices for data collection and reporting from their involvement with other initiatives.

While the document is quite extensive, the Urban Institute included a useful Executive Summary that outlines their "Top 10 Recommended Steps for Data Collection and Reporting," each of which is described in greater detail in the subsequent chapters:
  1. Recognize the need for multiple types and sources of data;
  2. Calculate baseline population counts and penetration rates;
  3. Develop the Promise Neighborhood data system strucutre;
  4. Collect and report the GPRA indicators;
  5. Set up a case management system collecting four types of data;
  6. Enroll children and families in a case management data system;
  7. Collect, store, and use identified individual-level data;
  8. Conduct a neighborhood survey every other year;
  9. Conduct a school climate survey every year;
  10. Compile summary school- and neighborhood-level data.
Though the document and its recommendations are primarily intended for communities with federal Promise Neighborhoods Implementation grants, any community that is concerned about achieving measurable improvements in health, academic, and economic outcomes for children will find much to help them plan their work or strengthen the approach an existing initiative.

For more information about this resource, please visit the Urban Institute's website here.

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