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June 16 -- The Institute of Educational Science (IES), Department of Education (ED), invites public comments by August 16, 2021 on its proposal to evaluate the Promise Neighborhoods program.

The Promise Neighborhoods program aims to build on existing community services and strengths to provide a comprehensive and coordinated pipeline of educational and developmental services from “cradle to career” to benefit children and families in the country's most distressed neighborhoods. Congress has invested $506 million in Promise Neighborhoods grants and mandated an evaluation of the program.

This package requests approval to conduct a survey of Promise Neighborhoods grantees and to collect multiple years of administrative school records from districts. These data will be used to study the implementation and outcomes of the Promise Neighborhoods program.
 
To date, there has not been a national evaluation of the Promise Neighborhoods program despite the fact that 68 communities have been supported by program funds since 2010. Congress recently mandated such an evaluation under ESSA. Understanding the implementation of and outcomes associated with the Promise Neighborhoods program is particularly critical in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students and families in underserved neighborhoods, including racial and ethnic minority communities, are likely to have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and may benefit from enhanced and coordinated services to recover. The evaluation’s findings will provide valuable evidence for a number of stakeholders, including ED, which administers the program; members of Congress, who decide whether to appropriate funds to the program; grantees seeking to improve their programs; and state, district, and school policymakers and community organizations who are considering similar initiatives.
 
IES contracted with Mathematica and its partners – Social Policy Research Associates and the Urban Institute – to conduct this study. This study will have two components that address several research questions (Table A.1). The first is an implementation analysis, which will describe the implementation of the Promise Neighborhoods grants in terms of the services offered, the characteristics of service recipients, the degree to which services are coordinated, implementation challenges, and funding sources. The second component is an outcomes analysis, which will assess whether any changes in outcomes after the grant award were unique to Promise Neighborhoods schools or whether similar changes were observed in other similar schools.
 
The implementation analysis will be based on information collected through a grantee survey administered in fall 2021. Respondents will include 12 current grantees who were awarded five-year grants in FY2016, 2017, or 2018 and 10 previous grantees who were awarded five-year grants in FY2011 or 2012.2 This sample represents all current and previous Promise Neighborhoods grantees, as grants were not awarded in FY2013, 2014, and 2015, or after FY2018.
 
The outcomes analysis will be based on school-level administrative data. In fall 2021, the study team will obtain school-level data for schools located in all FY2011 and FY2012 Promise Neighborhoods and for a group of similar schools—called comparison schools—that were not served by a Promise Neighborhoods grant. The outcomes analysis will focus on longer-term outcomes, which is consistent with the program’s theory of action and with grantees’ reports that the initial period after grant award is often focused on start-up activities. The outcomes analysis will not include the FY2016 Promise Neighborhoods because there would be missing data for some outcomes in some years due to the coronavirus pandemic occurring during the middle of these grants and the resulting sparse and/or uneven administration of assessments for multiple years. In addition, the outcomes analysis will not include the FY2017 and FY2018 Promise Neighborhoods because their grant periods are not yet completed. Fewer years of outcome data would be available for schools in these neighborhoods, which would not allow for an analysis of longer-term outcomes.

The study team will obtain school-level electronic records from districts where Promise Neighborhoods and comparison schools are located to gather information on school enrollment, achievement, attendance, graduation, college enrollment, kindergarten readiness, student mobility, and background characteristics of the student body. The study team will collect these data for the three years before the grant was received and all five years of the grant period. For example, for a FY2011 Promise Neighborhood, the study team will collect data for school years 2008–2009 through 2015–2016.

Promise Neighborhoods website: https://promiseneighborhoods.ed.gov/
Evaluation proposal, including forms and technical documentation: https://www.regulations.gov/search?filter=ED-2021-SCC-0089
FR notice inviting comments: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/06/16/2021-12664/agency-information-collection-activities-comment-request-evaluation-of-promise-neighborhoods

Point of contact: Erica Johnson, Research Scientist, Evaluation Division, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, IES Erica.Johnson@ed.gov 202-245-7676

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