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Former Ag Statistics Head to Lead COPAFS

The Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS) has announced that Cynthia Z.F. Clark will serve as its next Executive Director effective December 3. Dr. Clark most recently led the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), one of two Department of Agriculture statistical agencies, from 2008 until 2014. She succeeds former Census Director John Thompson, who retired from the organization earlier this year. COSSA congratulates Dr. Clark on her appointment and looks forward to continuing to work closely with COPAFS on issues affecting federal statistical agencies.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 11), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

National Academies Establishes Standing Committee on Science Communication Research and Practice

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) announced on November 21 the establishment of a new standing committee to bring together science communication practitioners and researchers. The Standing Committee on Advancing Science Communication Research and Practice will engage broad networks of stakeholders from across sectors to advance science communication around the goals of building a coherent knowledge base about communicating science, making it easier for science communicators to access research, and support organizations and individuals communicating science outside the science enterprise. More information about the standing committee and a list of members can be found at the NASEM website.

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Posted in Issue 23 (November 27), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research Seeks Recommendations for Areas of Study

The National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research, an effort backed by philanthropic donors, will issue the first of four annual requests for proposals in January 2019 and is seeking input from researchers on areas of focus for gun-policy research funding. The annual request for proposals will be comprised of $20 million to $50 million awarded over a five-year period, with up to $10 million in research grant funding and dissertation research awards available in the first round. Researchers who would like to suggest areas of focus for gun-policy research funding can email ncgvr@rand.org and those interested in receiving alerts about funding opportunities can sign up at NCGVR.org.

The collaborative was launched by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and is administered by the RAND foundation under the direction of an independent advisory committee that will set research priorities and make all decisions on grant awards.

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Posted in Issue 23 (November 27), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Academies Releases “Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12”

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) released a new consensus study report, Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. The report revisits the National Research Council’s 2006 America’s Lab Report: Investigations in High School Science and reviews relevant research with a focus on how to engage today’s middle and high school students in science and engineering.

This report provides guidance for teachers, administrators, creators of instructional resources, and leaders in teacher professional learning on how to support students. Recommendations center around changing science and engineering instruction to focus on investigation and design through new instructional resources and professional learning opportunities for teachers, instruction on how to provide multiple opportunities for students to engage in science projects, and guidance for administrators to account for historical inequities by implementing science investigation and engineering design for all students.

The full report is available for download on the National Academies ’s website.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s fall intern, Victoria Deck of Emerson College.

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Briefing Highlights Role of Vital Statistics in Protecting Maternal and Child Health

On October 25, the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS), the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and the March of Dimes held a Congressional briefing entitled “Vital Statistics: Vital to Maternal and Child Health.” The briefing featured Shawna Webster, Executive Director of NAPHSIS; Devin George, State Registrar and Director for the Louisiana Bureau of Vital Records and Statistics; Rebecca Russell, Senior Director of Applied Research for the March of Dimes; Judette Louis, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of South Florida; and Elizabeth Saadi, State Registrar in the Kansas Office of Vital Statistics.

The speakers discussed the problems that exist around collecting maternal mortality data, and how vital statistics could be used to help lower maternal mortality rates, which are currently on the rise in the United States. Webster offered introductory remarks and noted that while states were sending their information to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) more reliably, there were still problems with the integrity of the data.

George explained that while physicians are supposed to check a box on a death certificate to indicate if the patient was pregnant at the time of death or within a year of her death, they don’t always check this box or check it incorrectly. Sometimes, this can be caught by the Bureau of Vital Records and Statistics if they notice a fetal death certificate filed in short proximity.

Louis discussed her role as a maternal fetal medicine physician, which is a more specialized obstetrician, and noted the rising maternal mortality rate and the disparity in maternal deaths within races and ethnicities. She highlighted two initiatives created by the Florida Department of Health’s Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review (PAMR), the Obstetric Hemorrhage Initiative (OHI) and the Hypertension in Pregnancy Project (HIP),which sought to lower hemorrhage and hypertension rates, the two leading causes of maternal death in the state of Florida, and treat these diseases more effectively with better preventative care, screening and post-discharge education. These initiatives would not have been possible without this important vital data, as the data allowed them to target specific causes of maternal mortality in Florida.

Russell‘s remarks focused on the issue of “maternity care deserts,” areas where maternity care is not available within the county, which are a high contributor to maternal deaths in rural areas. She also discussed the barriers preventing women from accessing care, particularly lack of health insurance, a problem for one-fifth of pregnant women.

Saadi concluded by highlighting the use of vital statistics and explained why they are important. She mentioned that the introduction of Electronic Death Reporting Systems has made a big difference in many states, including her own state of Kansas. This data led to the regulation of home daycares in Kansas after a disturbing number of young children died. However, the data could be further improved by including more specific information on cause of death. For instance, an indication that “cardiac arrest” was the cause of death is not helpful to determine whether or not the death was related to pregnancy and delivery-related heart disease.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s fall intern, Victoria Deck of Emerson College.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 30), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Academies Releases “How People Learn II”

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently released a new consensus study report, How People Learn II: Learners, Contexts, and Cultures, which summarizes the current research on the science of learning. The report is a follow-up to a 2000 study and highlights advances in knowledge produced over the past 15 years, including “insights about the influence of culture in shaping how people learn, the dynamic nature of learning across the life span, and the importance of motivation in learning.” The report also identifies priorities for future research in two main areas: (1) connecting research on internal mechanisms of learning with the shaping forces of contextual variation, including culture, social context, instruction, and time of life; and (2) using insights on the science of learning to better design technologies that facilitate learning across the lifespan and to adapt technologies to specific learning environments. The full report is available for download on the National Academies’ website.

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Posted in Issue 20 (October 16), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

COPAFS Launches Executive Director Search

The Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS) has launched a search for a new Executive Director following the retirement of John Thompson this summer. COPAFS advocates for the development and dissemination of high-quality federal statistics. More details on COPAFS and on the search are available on the COPAFS website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 2), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Social Psychologists Among 2018 Golden Goose Award Recipients

The seventh annual Golden Goose Award Ceremony was held on September 13 in Washington, DC to honor seemingly obscure federally funded research that resulted in “tremendous human and economic benefit.” Many members of Congress joined the honorees in recognizing the importance of federal-funded scientific research including Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). The honorees included the social and behavioral scientists that pioneered the study of implicit bias and the Implicit Association Test. More information about the award, videos of the honorees, and complete coverage of the event can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 18), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

COSSA and 25 Science Organizations Call for Removal of Census Citizenship Question

In a joint comment to the Department of Commerce, COSSA and 25 other science and research organizations urged the Department to remove the citizenship question from the 2020 Census. The letter, which was submitted in response to a federal request for input on data collection activities related to the 2020 Census, focuses on the science and research implications of the citizenship question, arguing that “the inclusion of a question on citizenship in the 2020 Census will increase the burden on respondents, add unnecessary costs to the operation, and negatively impact the accuracy and integrity of one of the most valuable data resources the government produces.” COSSA previously released a statement opposing the question after it was announced. While formal approval of 2020 Census questionnaire by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is all but certain, several law suits to remove the question are currently pending.

In response to the same request for comments, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Council on National Statistics (CNSTAT) Task Force on the 2020 Census submitted a letter concluding that “the decision to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 census is inconsistent with the ‘proper performance of the functions’ of the Census Bureau.” The CNSTAT letter is available on the National Academies’ website.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 7), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

Event Highlights State Evidence-Based Policymaking

On July 24, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) hosted an event entitled “How States Use Data and Evidence for Policymaking: Current Trends and Future Opportunities.” The event began with a fireside chat between Nick Hart, Director of the Evidence-Based Policymaking Initiative at BPC, and Sara Dube, Director of the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative at the Pew Research Center, who defined evidence-based policymaking (EBP) as “the systematic use of findings from program evaluations and outcome analyses to guide government policy and funding decisions.” Much of the conversation revolved around a report from Pew, “How States Engage in Evidence-Based Policymaking.” The report found that successful EBP efforts include four characteristics: (1) engaging decision makers, (2) building champions for evidence-building, (3) developing staff capacity, and (4) creating mechanisms for effective and continued use.

A panel moderated by Kira Fatherree, Senior Policy Analyst at BPC, highlighted several examples of state- and city-level evidence-based policymaking and discussed the challenges of implementing it. Jessica Corvinus, Research and Evidence-Based Policy Manager at the Colorado Office of State Planning and Budgeting, went over the work the Colorado Governor’s Office has been doing to increase the use of EBP since 2014. Eric W. Trupin, Director of the Division of Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy at the University of Washington, discussed his work on incorporating evidence in the field of juvenile detention and youth recidivism. David Yokum, Director of The Lab @ DC, explained that a big hurdle in implementing evidence-based policymaking is that most states and cities don’t have the means to collect survey data themselves, and the data that is available to them is often not in a format that is easily used. Overall, the speakers agreed that the best way to normalize and increase use of evidence-based policymaking is to build a culture where it is expected and where policy that isn’t evidence-based is not accepted.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s summer intern, Catherine Cox of the University of Michigan.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 7), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

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