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- Policies to promote employment in disadvantaged populations
- Family strengthening policies
- Effective teachers
- Experimental evaluations
- Benefit-cost analysis
Sheena McConnell's research focuses on using experimental methods to learn about the effectiveness of programs and policies for vulnerable populations.
An expert in policies to promote employment and strong families in disadvantaged populations, she is directing a national experimental evaluation of the Workforce Investment Act Adult and Dislocated Worker programs. These programs, providing training, employment counseling, and other employment-related services, are the backbone of the public workforce investment system in the United States. The study involved randomly assigning about 35,000 job seekers in 28 sites across the United States.
McConnell recently directed a study of the effectiveness of math teachers who entered teaching through Teach For America or the Teaching Fellows programs. The study involved random assignment of over 8,000 students to teachers in over 80 schools. Data on the students were collected both from district records and by administering a study-specific computer-adaptive test in the classroom. McConnell has also taken lead roles in complex experimental evaluations of programs to promote healthy relationships, responsible fatherhood programs, programs that assist people become successful entrepreneurs, and approaches to administering training vouchers. She also conducted an in-depth benefit-cost analysis of Job Corps—a residential program for disadvantaged youth
Prior to joining Mathematica in 1990, McConnell was a lecturer at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has published in the American Economic Review, Evaluation Review, the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, and the Journal of Public Analysis and Management (JPAM). Together with other Mathematica staff, she won the Raymond Vernon Memorial Prize for the Best Article Published in JPAM. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University.
Workforce Investment Act Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs Gold Standard Evaluation
In 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration commissioned Mathematica to conduct a national random assignment evaluation of the Workforce Investment Act Adult and Dislocated Worker programs' effectiveness.
Evaluation of the Job Corps Program
The study was the first nationally representative experimental evaluation of a federal employment and training program for disadvantaged youth. From late 1994 to early 1996, nearly 81,000 eligible applicants nationwide were randomly assigned to either a program or control group.
Secondary Math Teachers from Teach For America and the Teaching Fellows Programs
Students assigned to TFA teachers scored higher than those assigned to comparison teachers, with the difference roughly equivalent to an additional 2.6 months of math instruction. Students taught by Teaching Fellows teachers had about the same math scores as peers taught by comparison teachers.
Individual Training Accounts: Testing Models of Paying for Job Training
We conducted the most comprehensive study to date of the long-term impacts of ITA models. Nearly 8,000 job seekers were randomly assigned to one of three models, followed in eight local workforce investment areas, and tracked six to eight years after they were offered training.
Project GATE: Growing America Through Entrepreneurship
This demonstration tested ways of helping emerging entrepreneurs create, sustain, and/or expand their existing small business. Project GATE operated in seven urban/rural sites in three states—Maine, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania.
She Served: Policy Research Roundtable on Women Veterans
Sheena McConnell and Grace Roemer are participating in "She Served: Policy Research Roundtable on Women Veterans," sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Mathematica Appoints Scott Cody, Jill Constantine, and Sheena McConnell as Senior Vice Presidents
Mathematica Policy Research has appointed three company leaders—Scott Cody, Jill Constantine, and Sheena McConnell—as senior vice presidents, acknowledging their accomplishments and recognition in their respective fields of expertise, the value they are bringing to our clients and partners, and the active...
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Employment and Training Services to Improve Job Seekers' Success
For 10 years, the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) was the major source of public funding for employment and training services in the United States. WIA’s Adult and Dislocated Worker programs provided employment and training for low-income disadvantaged job seekers as well as workers laid off from...
Building the Knowledge Base on Teacher Preparation and Effectiveness
Mathematica designed and conducted three large-scale studies on the relationship between teacher preparation and effectiveness, using the most rigorous approach possible—random assignment of students to teachers from different kinds of programs—and compared student test scores to gauge teacher effectiveness.
Improving the Quality of Life for Youth
Through the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, Congress established Job Corps, a national vocational and academic training program for disadvantaged youth ages 16 to 24. The program costs the federal government $1.6 billion a year, making it one of the most expensive education and training programs funded...
Addressing America's Poverty Crisis: Building Worker Skills
Addressing America’s Poverty Crisis continued the conversation on building worker skills, and discussed new proposals on apprenticeship programs, funding training programs for low-skill workers, and financial incentives for colleges to better prepare disadvantaged students for work. The panelists included...
Research Recap: Addressing Teacher Shortages in Disadvantaged Schools
A video examining a study of middle and high school math teachers from Teach For America and the TNTP Teaching Fellows programs that showed they are as effective as, and in some cases more effective than, other math teachers in the same schools.