Recent Practica


The Medical Home Connection Program - Fall 2011

This study analyzed patient use of the Medical Home Connection Program, a program managed by the University of Chicago Medical Center’s (UCMC) Urban Health Initiative. The program seeks to educate patients on the importance of ongoing primary care and establishment of a medical home. Patient Advocates attempt to identify acuity UCMC Emergency Department patients who present with low acuity and lack existing primary care and make appointments for those patients at a primary care site elsewhere on the South Side of Chicago.

The study focused on patient show rates and found that the Medical Home Connection Program patients are generally consistent with patterns in patient show rates found in other studies. Namely, nearly one half of patients are “no-shows” who fail to attend, cancel, or reschedule their appointment. Those patients are more likely to be uninsured, young, and did not confirm the appointment.

These results are indicated by simple tabulation and significance testing, as well as a logistic regression model which indicates the significant marginal effects of patient characteristics (such as age and insurance status) on the probability of a patient showing up for his or her appointment. Though these traits cannot explain all of the variations in show rates for patients, they are traits that can be targeted by the program for further education or refined intervention.

Evaluation of the Economic Recovery Act - Spring 2011

The Recovery Partnership is the City of Chicago’s collaboration with the Chicago philanthropic community to secure funding and provide strategic guidance in allocating funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The Partnership sought assistance in conducting an evaluation of the impacts of ARRA funding in Chicago, and this report presents the work of the Harris School students who conducted this evaluation. Through the Harris School’s policy practicum program, graduate students in public policy worked on this project under the guidance of James H. Lewis, Senior Program Manager at the Chicago Community Trust; Alexander Gail Sherman of the Civic Consulting Alliance; and Paula R. Worthington, Senior Lecturer at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies.

From 2009 – 2011, the City of Chicago and Cook County received a total of $2.35 billion in funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA]. The stimulus money was allocated to seven areas: education, basic needs, transportation & infrastructure, housing & energy, public safety, broadband and workforce development. The Chicago Recovery Partnership Evaluation of ARRA analyzes the impact of the stimulus spending using a cost-benefit analysis framework. This report evaluated $1.09 billion of total spending in Chicago and Cook County, resulting in estimated net benefits ranging from -$173.9 to $2,740.2 million. The wide range in net benefits is attributed largely to education, which received over half of ARRA funding.

Predictors and Consequences of 6th Grade Retention – Fall 2010

The purpose of the following research paper is to describe our findings from the analysis of Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) data in order to examine the effects of CPS’ retention policy, namely how retention affects later achievement and whether it can be predicted. The authors of this paper are four second-year Master of Public Policy graduate students from the Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago who were selected to participate in a Practicum course to consult with CPS and assist in analyzing student data and inform the discussion around retention policy, particularly in a rapidly changing political climate in Chicago and CPS leadership. 

To explore the relationship between retention and achievement, the following research questions were proposed: 

  1. Can prior performance predict 6th grade retention?
  2. What are the short-term academic consequences of 6th grade retention?
  3. Can prior performance predict 9th grade on-track status?

In all cases, we found that math and reading scores are one of the most important predictors of future academic performance, both in terms of 6th grade retention and 9th grade on-track status. Additionally, students who are retained in 6th grade have better math and reading test scores in the two years following retention then they would likely have had had they not been retained.

Although we can make no specific recommendations for changes to CPS’ retention policies, we can say that as the policy stands now, it is possible to roll back the on-track indicators to 6th grade and possibly even to 3rd grade. Performance in early years is highly predictive of future academic performance, so a system similar to high school on-track indicators could be used to identify students in early years and target them for extra help early in order to avoid likely future retention and make sure they are on-track for graduation when they reach the 9th grade.

Saying that, much more research is recommended in order to fully understand the causes and consequences of retention. Although we had a strong dataset, we had no information about nonacademic causes or correlates of retention such as behavior and attendance. Future research with a richer dataset could obtain even more accurate predictions with smaller confidence intervals.

Additionally, we did no research looking at the causes and consequences of attending summer school in a CPS school. Since attending summer school is typically based on low ISAT test scores, understanding more about which students attend and whether it helps them raise their future academic performance regardless of retention status would be very helpful in gaining a fuller understanding of how CPS’ retention and summer school policies affect students. 

We also were unable to spend much time looking at subgroups. It is possible that students of a certain gender, race or economic status may benefit from retention or summer school more than the average student. Furthermore, retention does not only happen in 6th grade. Many students are retained in 3rd and/or 8th grade. Our analysis did not focus on these grades, but it is likely that retention at different grades has very different effects on students. Research looking and the causes and consequences of retention in grades other than 6th would be needed to fully understand the effects of CPS retention policies. 

Although there is still more research needed to fully learn the outcomes of CPS’ policies regarding retention, our analysis should offer a better understanding of which students are retained and what happens to them as they move through CPS from 3rd grade to high school and beyond.