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Secrets from the Data Cave: November 2014

by Sarah McCruden Welcome to CRC’s monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who don’t know, the title references our room — fondly referred to as “the bat cave”— where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here we’ll be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what we’re implementing here at CRC!Visualizing Nonprofit Data: Tell the Real Story by Using Your Program Knowledge (This blog post originally appeared last month as a guest post for the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations.) Many nonprofit organizations rely on in-house staff members to crunch numbers and create reports for their program data. This means that, in some cases, those who are inexperienced at turning heaps of...

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Out of School Time Programs in Baltimore City

by Sheila MatanoThe Baltimore Education Research Consortium (BERC) recently released a new report on schools in Baltimore City that provide out-of-school time activities. All the schools in the reports were funded under the Community Schools Initiative at the Family League of Baltimore City.One of the key outcomes for the OST programs was attendance; the report showed students who attended OST on a regular basis had a slightly higher school attendance rate than their peers who did not (95.0% compared to 93.0%).[1]Another key outcome was that students who attended OST were significantly less likely to be chronically absent[2] from school in 2011-12 than their peers; 62% of regular OST attenders were no longer chronically absent compared to 51% of their comparable peers. In other words, the number of regular OST attenders who...

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Reducing the Price of Hospital Readmission

by Tracy DusablonThe Hospital Readmission Reduction Program is part of the Affordable Care Act, which has ignited heated debates both for and against the program. The program aims to improve quality of care and lower costs by reducing hospital readmissions for Medicare patients. To accomplish this, hospitals are essentially ‘dinged’ when patients are readmitted within 30 days of discharge, and these ‘dings’ turn into financial penalties for the hospitals. As it currently stands, the penalty is one percent of hospital payments, and is set to increase to three percent by 2015.So, how are hospitals dealing with this new policy, which took effect in October 2012? To some extent, they may just be accepting the penalties, chalking it up to the expense of doing business. On a more constructive end, some...

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Guest Blog: Moneyball & adapting to a data driven world

 by Meridith PolinThe role of the evaluator is much like that of Peter Brand in the  movie Moneyball (based on the book by Michael Lewis, a favorite author of mine). Peter Brand’s role as an economics whiz kid—   hired by the Oakland A’s— was to help them figure out how to win. Using meaningful statistics, Peter and the General Manager Billy Beane, helped turn the game of baseball on its head by looking at data in a new way. Similarly, evaluators are charged with  identifying and measuring the ‘bottom line’ of non-profit services from a social impact perspective. We have seen an explosion of businesses and non-profits talk about the use of data (like they do in Moneyball).But before anyone thinks about the analysis of data,   we (as...

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Nonprofit Organizations and Outcome Measurement

by Sheila MatanoAn article by Lehn Benjamin in the September 2012 issue of the American Journal of Evaluation explored the extent to which existing outcome measurement frameworks are aligned with the actual activities performed by nonprofit staff to ensure positive outcomes for their clients.Benjamin’s analysis of numerous measurement guides revealed that existing outcome measurement frameworks focus primarily on program activities completed and the changes in the users as a result of those program activities. This highlights, rather overwhelmingly, that outcome measurement often misses important aspects of staff work, namely the direct activities they do with clients. It is this frontline work that is essential for helping staff build relationships in their communities that are paramount to positive program outcomes. Unfortunately in many cases this does not fully capture the work...

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