National Institute of Justice Comprehensive School Safety Initiative Webinar Transcript

May 13, 2014

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Hello everyone and welcome. My name is Dr. Matthew Scheider, and on behalf of NIJ I would like to welcome you to our discussion of the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative. I am joined by my colleagues Dr. Greg Ridgeway, the Acting Director of NIJ.

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

Hello everyone.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

And Phyllis Newton, our Director of Research.

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

Hi everyone; welcome.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

I am also joined by Alison Gary who is handling all of the technical aspects of the webinar. We are going to give a very high-level overview of the CSSI Program and then get into some specifics on a particular aspect of the initiative which is the developing knowledge about what works to make schools safe solicitation which was just recently released.

We will also spent a large portion of our time responding to your specific questions about the initiative and if we do not get to all the questions we are going to be posting answers to them within a few days of the webinar.

So, first I would like to hand it over to Alison who is going to go over some of the ground rules and logistics for the webinar and talk to you about how it is going to work. Alison?

Alison Gary – Senior Web Meetings Manager – Altarum Institute

Hi everyone, you may ask a question at any time during the webinar by typing it into the question’s field which is to the right of the slide presentation simply type in the bottom field and press that little text bubble to the right or press enter.

As previously mentioned questions will be addressed at the end of the presentation. A copy of today’s slides, as well as additional resource materials, are available in the resources area directly below the questions field. Single click on the title of the document you wish then click download files, a separate browser window will open providing further instructions. Thank you.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

All right, thank you, Alison. So, now I am going to turn it over to Greg Ridgeway who is going to talk about the purpose and origins of the initiative. Greg?

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

Thank you Matthew and welcome all of you. I am excited to have all of you on this call. We are really excited about this initiative and want to help all of you be as competitive as possible and come up with some really good ideas here.

This initiative fits within the National Institute of Justice’s mission of solving real-world problems of public safety, violence, crime and justice and now making schools safe through science and innovation.

So, we recognize that there are some 100,000 schools and 14,000 school districts, so in order for us to really have an impact we need to invest in efforts that will build evidence and generate knowledge that we can then share with the remaining 100,000 schools.

So, it is for this reason that when congress set up this initiative that they designed it to be research focused so that all of the projects whether it is about mental health or preparedness, public safety or technology that we are glad we will be able to provide that to some schools, those resources, but in addition we expect in return to get some knowledge, some evidence so that we know what works.

So, what we are asking of you is we need some districts to step forward with some good innovative ideas and also have the willingness to put them to a rigorous scientific test so that we can put to rest some of those big school safety questions, other technologies that actually make schools safer is it warnings, information sharing, access control systems, what kind of mental health services actually make a difference? Do school resource officers, do they reduce injuries? Do they reduce violence on campus? How can a school best transform its climate to foster school safety?

So, we are looking forward to talking to all of you on this conference call and going forward and best wishes for all of you to produce really interesting innovative proposals and of course later, as this initiative progresses we will be sharing back with all of you the new innovations, the new knowledge, the new evidence built.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Great, thank you, Greg and now I am going to turn it over to Phyllis who is going to give an overview of the initiative. Phyllis?

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

Thank you, Matthew. As Greg said, we are really excited about this project. We think this is a great opportunity for everybody to move the field forward and so let me just talk for a minute before I get into the federal partners and what we are going to be doing.

I want to talk, just for a second, about the goals of this research project. Basically what we are looking for is to improve the safety of schools nationwide. Obviously, that is what congress wants here. We are doing that through the development of a solid foundation of knowledge and best practices that can be implemented through individualized school safety personnel, programs, policies and activities, and result in a sustainable and cost-effective school safety program.

The second goal is to rigorously test and evaluate school safety models and their component parts through research programs in K-12 public and private schools. Now one of the things that Greg was talking about is this idea that we want to provide funds to help provide personnel, equipment, whatever a school district is interested in trying in their districts. But part of that is that we need to have it research focused as well.

So if you put a program in we need to have a test of the outcome of that intervention and that is going to take some work. So you are going to have to think about what would be the outcome measures of a program that I am going to institute and so when you are working with a research partner be sure to cover that part of the program.

We are also looking for something that is long-term, that is sustainable. How can you financially manage this overtime? We also are interested in programs that can be used in different schools across the country that is not something very specific to your school but something that can be used I others.

In terms of the research itself, we of course would like the focus to be on nondiscrimination. So we want this to be neutral with respect to disability, race, national origin, sex, gender, identity, sexual orientation, religion, or language proficiency. So, be aware of those items. Also, we want to avoid specifically the school-to-prison pipeline. I am hoping that Matthew will talk a bit about that in the future.

Now let me talk about the partnerships. One of the things that congress was particularly interested in too was that we do not operate in a vacuum that we reach out to folks who have been working in this area for quite a while.

You can see from the slides that we have a very large group of partners, federal partners, The Department of Justice, Department of Education, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and the Department of the Treasury and within those particular offices.

This is just the federal system though and we want to reach out to state and local partners as well. I am going to come to that in just a minute when I talk about convening stakeholders, because I think that is terribly important to learn what you have already tried. We do not want to repeat what has been tried on the other hand, if what has been tried is in only one school you may want to try it in several schools to see if it working.

The last thing I am going to talk about is how we have broken down this program and we have done that in three parts. We want to understand the history of what has gone on in trying to build school safety. Again, we are interested in not necessarily reinventing the wheel, so if research has been done in a particular area we want to know about it. So, we are going to do a really healthy literature review to see what research is out there, what has been done and what we might capitalize on from that past work.

We also want to know what individual organizations or the state organizations have been doing in different states and different localities, so what we want to do is to convene stakeholders, people have been doing this research, specific topic areas for example, let’s think about tribal schools and perhaps we bring people together and think through issues associated with that.

In addition, we want to think about and work with local stakeholders and think about how do we take this research and move it to practice. Because one of the things that ends up happening is we do this really rigorous nice research. We come up with good findings and it does not go anywhere. We do not want that to happen. We are interested in moving it further along.

The other thing that we are working on in this particular area of understanding the history is what data have people collected? Are we only collecting data locally? Are there national programs? And this is how we are being helped a lot by our federal partners in trying to learn what nationwide data has been collect and we are going to capitalize on those early findings.

So all of those are establishing really a foundation, a history of the kind of research that has been going on, that is one component of the project. The second is, we have a solicitation out at the moment on independent innovative investigator initiated research. We are looking for great ideas. We are looking for the best and the brightest possible ways of thinking through this issue. It is so broad and so complex in so many ways that we need to bring our ideas together and we are excited about this because the potential is wide open. Do not worry about “gee, is this idea good enough” it undoubtedly will be if it has a strong rigorous research focus.

The last one is to test interventions through pilot projects and this is the one that Matthew is going to focus on. But we are going to be testing ideas in schools. We will be funding local school districts primarily and as part of that they need to reach out to researchers so that they can really test is something working. So, let me turn it back to Matthew and he can talk about this last project. If you have any questions I would be happy to answer at the end.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Great, thanks so much Phyllis, thanks Greg. As Phyllis and Greg mentioned the solicitation is aimed at learning about what works in terms of school safety through the funding of interventions and local schools and evaluating their effectiveness with research partners, $47 million is available, this is an estimate, the actual amount awarded may be slightly higher or lower.

I think the biggest thing on this slide to emphasize is the need to start early. I am going to assume that many of you have not applied for NIJ grants before, some of you have of course, but you may have applied for other grants perhaps through the Department of Education. The processes that DOJ uses of course are similar. We both use grants.gov but certainly DOJ has its own unique requirements and it is good to become familiar with those as soon as possible.

Also, one requirement of the solicitation is that you do work with a research partner many of whom have probably applied for NIJ grants in the past and may have greater familiarity with some of the unique aspects of our funding. So you may want to reach out to them and leverage them and have them assist you with any kind of part of this application process that is confusing.

The other thing to note is in the resources of course the solicitation itself is posted there both solicitations, as are the FAQs, the Dear Colleague letter and the authorizing legislation. These should be helpful to you, strongly recommend that you read all of them before developing your application.

Finally, there is an email address at the end of this presentation and there is also one in the solicitation and please feel free to use that email, we do respond to it. Of course we cannot assist you with specific substantive help in terms of developing your application but we can definitely explain the logistics of how to apply and provide you with as much assistance as we can if you have questions, budgetary questions or other questions, or questions about what you are proposing whether it is within the general scope of what we are looking for in terms of the solicitation.

Who is eligible for funding? Funding is available for local education agencies, public charter schools who are recognized as LEAs and state education agencies, SEAs. Now if you are not sure if you are eligible or not please just verify that you are an LEA, we have gotten a few of those questions already. Have you received grants from the Department of Education for LEAs, does your state consider you to be an LEA. If you have documentation that your state does consider you to be an LEA then we would accept that and you would be eligible to apply.

The other thing to mention is research partners are required. Again, these partners can help you with proposal development, research design, and probably have experience again working with NIJ grants. These can be universities, local community colleges, research institutions or research organizations.

Eventually we will require formal agreements between you and your research partner but this is not at the time of application. At the time of application we need letters of support and then the MOUs can be finalized after grant funding decisions are made.

You can also partner with other LEAs so you can combine together with other LEAs to do larger scale projects if you are interested in doing that. But one LEA does have to serve as the primary LEA on the grant and needs to be the primary applicant.

All right, let’s get into a few of the kind of general goals of the project and just a few kinds of specifics about it. This solicitation is limited to K-12 schools. It does not include research in colleges and universities. Now that is not to say that some of the methods and programs that are applied to keep colleges and universities safe cannot be used or referenced, but the interventions that are proposed must be applied and implementation in a K-12 setting and again you saw the list of eligible applicants on the previous slide.

Now we want you to think carefully of course about the kinds of schools where you would like to implement your programs. We are very open to this in any kind of range of schools from K-12 but you can limit it to middle schools or just high schools it is really up to you we do not express a preference in terms of that.

But do put some thought into where you think your interventions and your evaluation are going to have the most impact. The purpose again really is to implement and test interventions. Applicants can procure various items and partner with a researcher of course who will help them determine their effectiveness.

Now we want you to procure items that are going to be useful for you in your own school safety efforts. This includes SROs, mental health professionals, various programs in trainings to improve school climate and culture, efforts to address school-to-prison pipeline issues and we will talk little bit about some of those eligible items in a moment.

We also recommend, however, in addition to procuring items that it may be in your interest to begin with the research questions that you would like to have answered and then match those up with your local school safety needs.

As Greg mentioned we are a research and evaluation arm of the Department of Justice and the primary purpose is to learn about what is most effective in terms of school safety efforts. So, I want to speak a little bit for a moment to some of the more specific research aspects of the program and then next we will talk about some of the items that you can procure through the grant funding.

A few considerations in terms of the research project, the first recommendation is just to consider tying the interventions themselves and how they are implemented to the research design. Now for example, it is acceptable to implement a specific training program and just merely conduct a pretest posttest to determine if it has produced any change. However, you may want to consider how you can vary the implementation of the training or what researchers would call a treatment, you may want to train different audiences, change the delivery structure of the training or the types of schools that it is being implemented in. Really manipulating the intervention will really give us an opportunity, a very unique opportunity to potentially learn a much greater deal about school safety. So, the recommendation here is to think innovatively about how to implement the interventions in such a way as to maximize our ability to evaluate them.

Number two, second kind of consideration here is we also recommend that you think carefully about isolating effects. Picking large projects with many components is certainly allowed and our only note here is just to be sure that in the end you are going to be able to identify kind of which aspects of your interventions produce specific outcomes that you are looking for. This can be a challenge in terms of school safety.

School safety interventions are frequently complex, involve comprehensive approaches and this is a good thing. An intervention should be tied to other aspects of school safety. However, of course this presents a challenge in that it may make it difficult to isolate the effects of specific school safety efforts. So we just want to kind of recommend you think about this when designing your interventions and evaluations.
 
Third, based on the research questions we recommend that you try for the most rigorous designs possible. Now we understand in our peer review, where we review the proposals, certainly understand that not all researcher questions, for example, lend themselves to randomized control trials or other strong methodologies, but our message to you is merely to choose the most rigorous design possible given the research question that you choose and we are open to lots of different research methods.

Fourth, and lastly, in terms of research is think about your outcome variables, and Phyllis mentioned this earlier and I think this is a really good point, that there are wide varieties of school outcome variables that one could choose and it really depends on the intervention that you are selecting.

We are interested in effectiveness, sustainability, cost-benefit, the unintended consequences perhaps of the intervention. So, we just want people to think carefully about this. I think this is particularly important because serious school safety outcomes, for example, those pertaining to serious violent crimes, occur relatively infrequently in schools.

So, in the end, obviously think carefully about what you really mean by school safety. What is a safe school in this proposal? What outcomes are we trying to achieve? All right that is sort of for the research aspect of it.

Now we are going to talk about some of the various interventions that can be funded and evaluated. We definitely do not want LEAs and SEAs to be turned off by the research component. I want you to know that we are entirely open in terms of the types of items that you can apply for and procure and we want these to have a beneficial effect in your local communities.

Do keep in mind, of course, that whatever items you request they have to be tied to the program and the evaluation component of them has to be thought through. So there is a large number of ways that one could divide up school safety universe and we decided on these four but they are just four of many ways, and again, we are really open to any intervention which makes a school safer.

However, we decided on these four, the first is mental health and wellness. Really what we are talking about there are personnel, school psychologists, school counselors, these can be various types of training for teachers in terms of mental health identification. You could be examining various referral programs if you do not have enough money to afford school psychologist or counselors, talk about varying the roles and responsibilities of mental health professionals in schools. So really anything that pertains to kind of the mental health and overall wellness of those who are in the school community.

The second area or kind of second big bucket that we divide up this research into is security and preparedness. We include under here things like SROs, school resource officers, we definitely have an interest in looking at school resource officers and ensuring that their effectiveness can be maximized.

We include here various types of technologies that can be procured to ensure school safety. We include data collection and analysis. One may want to look at various programs and interventions that can assist agencies in better understanding and analyzing their school safety issues. We are talking here about physical security and access controls as well.

Thirdly, we talk about climate and culture. So, obviously there is a wide variety of things that people mean when they talk about school climate and culture. We are definitely supportive of this area we know that the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools has done a lot to promote climate and culture.

If there are various programs that you are looking at implementing and evaluating that can improve climate and culture we would like you to apply for those.  This includes things like restorative justice, peer mediation, bullying prevention. And finally we include school-to-prison pipeline and student discipline here kind of as a separate special category. We do that because we think it is important. But also, if you go back and look at the congressional language, school-to-prison pipeline and student discipline issues do play a primary role in, I think, what congress is interested in learning about.

So, what we mean here is we are looking at we want to learn more about how to reduce unnecessary exclusionary discipline, reduce and really eliminate a school to prison pipeline, we want to eliminate discriminatory treatment of students, we want to maybe build mechanisms to better monitor and track student discipline, expulsion, suspension, arrests.

We would like to learn about what role law enforcement potentially can play in these issues. What role school administration can play in these issues? So, there is a wide variety of topics around school-to-prison pipeline and there is a lot of interest in learning more about how to reduce it.

I want to talk briefly about just some details in terms of the application. Again, $47 million is available and projects can range from $500,000 to $5 million. That is the total cost of the project it is not the per year cost. That would be the total cost of the project over the entire 36 month grant period. I will mention here that we are more than open to a planning period for the the project.

We understand the limitations of the school year and academic calendars. We understand that planning is important and critical. We also understand with a research project such as this it is often very important to get baseline data before interventions begin. This is very important. So building in a planning year is definitely something that we are open to. Do not be afraid to do that.

One quarter to one third of the money must go for the evaluation and that is to the research partner. Two thirds to three quarters of the money we are looking at, approximately, these are approximates to give you kind of a sense of what we are looking at, to fund the actual interventions that you are proposing that are going to be be evaluated.

We would like to receive interim products and that is mentioned in the solicitation at least on an annual basis we would like a report that describes progress. We are going to require some identified results from the project even if it is just lessons learned about implementation or lessons learned even in that planning year what are lessons that you learned about how to plan and implement these research efforts?

So, we are going to require some ongoing reports as you move forward. So be sure to build that into your proposal. We do offer extensions when necessary at the end of the grant period, but ordinarily grants do not exceed five years.

All right, so now I think we are ready to move into some of the question phase, so I am going to turn it over to – actually I am going to go ahead and ask some questions that we have received and then I am going to – oh, go ahead, sorry?

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

This is Greg Ridgeway again; we have gotten a whole bunch of questions on line, thanks for posting all of these. We have lots of questions about eligibility. I am going to pass these onto Phyllis and I am combining several questions together on eligibility.

So, for example, we were asked whether a law enforcement agency working with the school is eligible. Whether individual schools could apply and whether for profit research firms could be involved? So, Phyllis, could you answer those questions?

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

Sure, it’s an assortment here of answers. Law enforcement agencies as the prime contractor, as the prime organization applying for the grant are not possible, however, that organization can partner with local school districts to submit a grant so I would not discourage it out of hand. I would work with the local school district.

In terms of, yes, for-profit organizations can apply for a grant. Greg, I missed the second one?

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

Yes, so I believe the for profit research firm, the eligible entity is, as Matthew mentioned, the LEA, but any of these entities could partner with the LEA, it just needs to be the LEA that comes into apply for the grant.

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

Sorry, that is right.

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

But the for profit research firm needs to come up with an arrangement with the LEA and the LEA is the applicant.

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

You asked about individual though Greg and I was not –

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

Yes, there was also a question about whether individual schools could apply.

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

Yes, individual schools need to apply again in a partnership with the local school district. They can work together to form a partnership of any kind and go for it that way. But an individual school needs that partnership it cannot, by itself, apply for the grant.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

All right, this is Matthew again. So, I have a question. Greg, can an internal program evaluation and research department be considered a research partner?

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

Sure, we know some school districts have internal research capacities to do program evaluation and that is fine. However, our peer reviewers are going to be checking for two key things. The first issue is research independence. You need to make sure, you need to convince us that using an internal research capacity will actually be independent and objective when evaluating the school district’s program so that is one.

The second, is that the NIJ staff and our peer reviewers will be looking for researchers with experience studying public safety, mental health, violence and if their internal research capacity has been traditionally focused on say educational testing or programs like that it might be a harder sell. But, another option sort of a midway option is to have your internal research organization program evaluation office bring in a consultant with the public safety and school safety components.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Thanks, Greg. Phyllis here is a question for you. Can you help determine whether my idea has merit or not?

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

Yes actually we can. You can call and we can try to talk about the issue. We are not going to talk to you about this is how you should go about doing it. But we are happy to talk to you about whether it has merit.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Thank you Phyllis. Here is another one. Are examples of grant applications available?

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

No we do not have those available. In general, our grant application, if you are interested in looking at them, need to be part of a FOIA question and that takes a long time.

But we layout, as carefully as we can in the solicitations those sections that you need to include. So I would pay very close attention to what it says this application must include.

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

This is Greg; I would just add that on nij.gov we do have some sample applications. They are not specific for the school safety initiative but if you go to nij.gov under funding and awards there is a bullet there building your proposal and there you find a link to sample applications. Now, again, it will not be an application that looks like a school safety application, but at least give you a sketch of what an NIJ proposal looks like.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Great, thanks, Greg. Here is another one, if a school proposes two rounds of funding, a baseline pilot study and full on implementation, should they be proposed in one grant application or two separate grant applications? Phyllis, do you want to take that one?

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

I will, but someone might want to jump in. My suggestion is that it would be in one project that way you can cover it comprehensively. We will recognize that it is being done in phases and I would talk about it that way. In phase 1 we are going to do x, y, z. In phase 2, depending on the results from phase 1, we are going to do x, y, z having done it in phases there will be some judgment in between about whether you have really answered the questions you were hoping to answer in phase 1. Do you want to add to that Greg?

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

Yes, that is great.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

All right here is one; I am going to ask Greg this one. How do we find a research partner? Are there any resources to connect schools with researchers?

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

We are getting a lot of questions in, a lot of people are asking about finding research partners. I think our primary strategy, our recommendation would be to look to your local universities, research institutions, reach out to a few national think tanks, nonprofits, look for those and I think that would be our primary source or primary suggestion.

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

I might like to add just a little bit there. It may be, for example, that a university or a think tank, or a for-profit organization, a research organization says “gee, this is such a great question, I wish we could apply.” Then what you need to think about doing is reaching out and finding a local school, local school district that is, that would be interested in the project you have in mind.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Thanks, Phyllis. We have a few coming in here via the web. Here is one, is the noncompetitive procurement limit of $150,000 for a year or for the life of the grant?

I think I can answer that one. So, the issue with the $150,000 limit is the limit for the sole source justification. So no matter how you procure services, you need to follow your own rules and procedures for the procurement of services.

The $150,000 is a number is just a number the federal government here at DOJ we use, which is the number by which you are going to have to submit a special approval for if you are going to sole-source those through a noncompetitive procurement.

So, if you do have a noncompetitive procurement above $150,000 you are going to be required to submit a sole source justification. You can submit that after the grant funding is awarded however you do not have to submit that ahead of time but you should be thinking about it ahead of time and that is per procurement it is not over the life of the grant.

Here is another good one. Based on your experience with solicitations like this, how many applications do you expect and how many applications you think we might fund?  Phyllis, do you want to take that one?

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

Sure, you give me that one. We do not know that. There are a plethora of questions out there that could be tested and there are a number of schools that have expressed interest but we frankly, do not have any idea how many applications we will get. This is not an easy solicitation and so there may be some winnowing down because of that.

The other thing is with respect to money and how much money, if we get a great idea for $500,000, we are going to fund that great idea. It has the rigorous evaluation as well or research components, we are going to fund it. Similarly, if a $5 million comes in and we say “whoa this could really make a difference in this country” we would likely fund that. I know that is not – that is a wishy-washy answer, but the truth is we do not know how many we will get.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

All right, thanks, Phyllis. Here is one. How much of an extra burden will it be on the schools to implement the research component? This should be discussed, let me turn it over to Greg to answer that one.

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

This is a great conversation to have now with your research partner. So, most research requires some effort on the part of schools to accommodate and really integrate that research activity as part of the initiative. So, we really view this as a partnership between the school district, the schools and the research entity but these costs, these extra cost of this burden can be included in the application.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Thanks, Greg.

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

Let me add a little something to that too if you will?

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Sure.

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

I think it is possible that a school district may want to implement something that a local school saying, “That really does not answer our question or the problem that we have.” It will be important, as Greg said, to talk through these issues to begin with because if you cannot get the local schools to implement the program as indicated as part of the research design then you will not get the answers that you want. So, it really is important to talk through with all the partners and come to an understanding of what it is you are trying to accomplish.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

All right, thanks, Phyllis. So, I am going to rattle through a few that I think I can just do pretty quickly kind of “yes/no.” Here is one, is there a preference for LEAs over SEAs? No.

Can a startup participate as a partner? Yes.

Are tribes eligible? Yes, if they are considered an LEA.

Can a 501(c)(3) organization participate? Yes they can participate as a research partner or as another partner which is added on to the award.

Can funding be used to hire school resource officers? Yes.

One thing about SROs I think is to – we would encourage you to think about some of the sustainability of SROs kind of beyond funding. So we will provide funding up to three years for an SRO. If you are going to look at, try to evaluate how they are performing. But, just something to keep in mind whenever you are procuring personnel.

All right, let me find another one. Here is one for Greg. Is it more likely to fund a new intervention rather than an intervention that is already evidence-based?

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

I think the answer really depends. I mean, we certainly want to get the new innovative ideas and put them to the test. But also, if there is an idea that has been circulating, tried with some effectiveness in other areas but perhaps there is a new wrinkle on it, you are a rural school district and it has only been tried in the big city schools that could be really exciting to try what has been an evidence-based program in urban schools to try that out in a rural school district.

I do not think we are likely to go after a program that is already well established, already known with a solid evidence-base that’s not what this program is about. But if there is something, again if it’s new, if it has been tried out in a couple of other places but maybe there is a need to expand the evidence-base we are very interested in that kind of program.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Great, thanks, Greg. Here is one for you Phyllis. What would be considered a highly qualified research organization with which to partner?

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

Well, you want to look at a partner that has pretty wide range of qualifications in terms of, for example, evaluative skills, research design, statistical analysis, but also experience. It is important, for example, has this research organization received funding for research in the past irrespective of who that funding is from.

The other possibility too is to look for publications, what has this research organization published both in terms of peer review journals and in trade journals. So you want to look to that to try to understand the experience of the organization.

The other thing is too that you can make some calls about references and things like that. Ask the research organization for some references. So, in some ways you are interviewing this organization as you would a job applicant.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Thanks, Phyllis. Here is a quick one, is a local match for required? The answer is, no.

Let me find one other one here, so we are getting a variety. Let me go back to something on one of the slides. When I broke up school safety into the different elements that we divided into mental health, security and preparedness, etcetera, I did not mean to imply that you cannot apply across those items. So, you definitely can apply – it is not like you have to pick kind of a category to apply under, you can apply across a variety of categories.

All right, let me find another one. All right, so we are also getting questions on just a variety of interventions. For example, can funding be used to assist with safety development on school grounds, can it be used on camera systems and school buildings, radio communications, improve communications with 9-1-1 centers or purchase communications systems or hire outside vendors? I am going to let Greg answer that one.

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

In general, if it is answering that question about this new program, this new idea and it is an integral part of the research effort than, yes. So, if you want to buy a new camera program, a new camera system or expand your camera system in your school district and you’ve got it tied in there with the research initiative that will, as a cameras roll out, we are going to learn what that impact is, then yes, we will pay for the camera system and the research evaluation.

If you want to install some sort of technology warning systems to alert, some sort of campus alert system then, yes we can fund the introduction of that campus alert system and the research plan to go along with it.

So in general, we will pay for personnel or technology, programs, consultants, training all of that but it has to be an integral part of the evaluation. So you want to train your school resource officers in a different way and yes we will pay for the training and the school resource officers but as long as at the end of it we will learn about the value of that training and the value of the school resource officers.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

I am just going to add one thing to that and just to mention, just as a reminder, I think most people are aware of the supplanting requirement as well, that all these investments need to be new investments.

We won’t pay for something that is in an existing budget or something that you already have funds set aside for that would be supplanting. So, this needs to be in addition to the activities that you are currently engaging in.

All right, I have a question for Phyllis. How do existing partnerships fit in?  For example, if my organization works with a school on a bullying prevention program or school safety what role could I play in terms of this grant?

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

The possibilities are completely wide open. A school district can turn to you both; it depends on your skills, but both to helping them think through what kind of project do I want to do? What kind of research design would it take to do it? I mean, it is wide open. So there is no question that if you have been working and have developed a relationship with the school you are actually a little ahead of the game.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Great, thanks, Phyllis. I have one for Greg here. If a school district is interested in two distinct research questions with two separate research partners is it acceptable to submit two proposals?

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

Short answer is, yes. You can summit multiple times. If you have multiple distinct ideas I would not recommend submitting things that are dependent on one another but indeed, if you two ideas, three ideas you want to study a technology question, a mental health question, a public safety question that you can submit three different proposals.

The same goes for research teams. We have some questions here about can the same research team be involved in different proposals? Again, the answer is, yes, you just need to show that you have the capacity to conduct the work and it will be of high quality and the answer is yes, multiple missions are fine.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Thanks, Greg. Phyllis, who will be reviewing the applications — researchers, practitioners or a combination of both?

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

A combination of both. We will turn to folks and we are right now looking at a variety of people and studying who has been doing research in the past. So, we will be looking at academics and researchers. We will also be looking at teachers. So, we are going to have a combination of practitioners and researchers involved in this and it will be completely independent peer review.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Thanks, Phyllis, it looks like we are getting a number of questions sill on eligibility, Greg, I do not know if you want to add a few words on that?

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

Yeah, just to reiterate, who is eligible to apply, the primary applicant, the applicant that comes in with the grant needs to be a local education agency, an LEA, a public charter school that is recognized as a LEA or state education agency. Those are the three entities that can apply. If you do not fit into one of those categories you need to partner with one of them. If you are an individual school then you need to go through the local LEA to apply.

If you are a research organization you need to go through an LEA. If you are a law enforcement agency you need to partner with the LEA and have them apply. So, those are the ones that have to be the primary applicant, but others need to partner with them in order to participate in the program.

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

I might add to that as well that sometimes maybe local education associations, local school districts will be a little bit overwhelmed by what is required in the solicitation. Do not feel badly about researchers taking a major role in writing the proposal. Lots of times they will have experience doing that. You can work together but I would not be overwhelmed by the solicitation. You can get a partner who has that kind of experience.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Thanks, Phyllis. Here is another one. Is there a minimum school size or student population? And I am just going to answer that and say, no there I not.

Can we tie this grant in with other existing initiatives or programs? Phyllis do you want to answer that or would you like me to?

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

I think probably you would do a better job at that. I think, again, we have to be careful about the issue about supplanting. So, let me let you handle that.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Sure, the other thing I think in addition to supplanting in terms of existing program, so we cannot fund something which you already have money allocated for, if that funding has disappeared and you want to reinstate funding with this then that would be allowed.

But again, another important thing to keep in mind is that our funding must be kept distinct. It is very important to have clear separate budgeting and accounting when you are proposing these interventions. I think that is all that I would say.

All right. I am going to ask Greg here or actually I am going to ask Phyllis. Phyllis, here is a question, is NIJ primarily interested in outcome evaluations or is there interest in processing evaluations as well as outcome evaluations?

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

I think that we are interested in both. Certainly, outcome is important to people and building a proper outcome variable, people want to know.

On the other hand, when you are developing a program, when you are implementing a program, if you have problems implementing the program, if you run into difficulties that are really critical to the program implementation, you cannot be a process evaluation for doing that. And in many ways the process evaluation is very helpful to the practitioner, is very appropriate for different schools and thinking about how to implement it so that what we would encourage is a two-step, tell us about the process and then when you get to the end we would like to hear your outcome as well.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Here is another one. Do we need to know the research question before submitting the grant or can we develop that research question in phase 1 of the grant?

My response would be, yes you need to know the research question before submitting the grant or there would not be any way to kind of complete the proposal. Phyllis, do you have anything to add?

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

No, I think that is exactly right. I mean, the issue remember is this is research focused we are building knowledge, we are building evidence about what works and you need to set that out in the beginning. We think this will work and how is that going to work, so yeah, you need your research questions included in the proposal.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Great, I think we have time for a few more here; we are getting close to 2:00 o’clock. Someone is curious to know if this is expected to be a one-time program or if it is expected that there will be an established funding opportunity with the potential for additional funding beyond 2014? I am going to ask Greg.

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

What we know is right now we have the funding for 2014 that part we know for sure. There is some potential that we could have the same program of similar size in 2015. It is in the President’s Budget for 2015. It is in the Draft House Appropriation for 2015. But, we never really commit until we finally get the appropriation 2015. So, I will just say that there is some potential for it to happen again in 2015.

What I think is most important if this is a program that is important to you then what we need is your best ideas. We need your best innovative research plans so that if indeed we are learning a lot and getting a lot out of this and I can make a good case that there is a good return on investment here, that is going to be the most – if you want this program to continue that will be the best way to see that it does.

Phyllis Newton – Director of the Office of Research & Evaluation – National Institute of Justice

I think too though that you need to think about sustainability because that will increase in some ways the value of your findings. If this can be implemented in various schools across the country and there is a way to sustain it then I think that is terribly important to the final what you have to say ultimately.

Matthew Scheider, PhD – Project Manager – National Institute of Justice

Great, thanks. So, we have a question about when will awards be made or the start date. So, decisions have to be made by October 1st and then people will be notified shortly after that. Start dates are January 1, 2015.

Another question we have is can a state school safety center apply for the grant? The answer is, no, however, if you have a state school safety center you are very fortunate. I think they have done a lot of great work in terms of insuring school safety across a number of states the states that have them. They definitely can serve as research partners or they can just serve as an additional partner for the applications. So, they don’t have to be the primary research partner but they can play a supportive role in doing a variety of different things depending on their capacity.

All right we have reached the 2:00 o’clock hour and I am going to turn it over to Greg to just kind of wrap it up. Just for my part, thanks for joining and I really hope that you apply.

Greg Ridgeway, PhD – Acting Director – National Institute of Justice

Thanks, Matthew for moderating this and thanks to all of you for attending. We had over 300 people call in for this so we are certainly thrilled by the excitement and the interest around it. So now, we are really just counting on you to send us some great ideas. We look forward to read them and going through them.

I just want to remind you that there will be a transcript afterwards. We have collected all the questions that we did not get a chance to answer and we are going to assemble those and post answers as soon as we can. So, from all of us here at the National Institute of Justice we look forward to working with all of you and good luck on your proposals. Thank you.

Date Created: June 3, 2014