(Center Identification Number: 79050-02-C)
Public transportation and public educational programs are mandated to provide transportation services for mentally and physically disabled individuals. While programs to transport members of disabled populations are important to ensure access and participation in important educational and work related activities, they are often highly expensive to operate. Moreover, they do not necessarily increase the independence of disabled clients. For these reasons, transit agencies, employers and educational institutions have begun to develop training programs to teach qualified clients how to use the fixed public transit system. Movement of disabled riders to fixed public transit systems reduces demand of costly paratransit programs, increases the ability of disabled clients to function independently, and may have a multitude of other benefits.
Travel training programs (TTP), particularly those offered by public school systems, are in their infancy. Chicago Public School’s (CPS) TTP is one of the oldest in existence. While there is ad hoc evidence that these programs are beneficial in many respects, to date there has been little effort to formally assess the costs and benefits of these programs. Given this lack of evidence and within a constant context of fiscal constraint, travel training programs are consistently vulnerable to closure.
In response, this project will undertake systematic effort to assess the benefits and costs of the CPS TIP. The project will be conducted in two tracks: evaluation of a prior TTP for specialty schools that operated on a limited basis and the design of an evaluation plan for the recently-established system-wide travel training program. These two tracks will be conducted sequentially, the first informing the second. The ultimate result of the project will be an assessment report on the costs and benefits of the prior TTP and an evaluation plan, complete with methods and metrics, for the newly established system wide TTP.
1) Literature review
The overall project will begin with an initial foray into the literature pertaining to travel training programs. This will include a review ofTTPs that have implemented around the country, including those that operate in public school systems. Additionally, the project will undertake a review of the evaluation literature with the goal of organizing a formal evaluation approach that incorporates the theoretical integration of program goals, resources, activities, outputs and outcomes. The literature review is a critical first step that will feed into the design of the TTP evaluation.
2) Logic model development
Based on the literature review, the evaluation team will develop an initial generic logic model that would be relevant for K-12 schools in the CPS system. The team would then work with CPS officials including those most directly involved with the TTP to refine the logic model with the aim of establishing a working model for the project. Additionally, the evaluation team will work with the CPS officials to learn about the range of existing data to help identify metrics to be used.
3) Data collection
The project will collect several different types of qualitative and quantitative data. Alluded to already, the evaluation team will undertake a set of interviews of stakeholders including trainers and administrators) to learn more about the goals, resources and activities of the project. Interviews with trainers will inquire about the components of the program including:
- Program marketing
- Acceptance of students and key stakeholders
- Student selection and evaluation process, including readiness assessment
- Student training process
- Existing evaluation processes
- Indicators of success
4) Additionally, the project will collect qualitative data from ·several sources for the purpose of providing an evaluation of the TTP established previously at two or three CPS specialty schools:
- Ridership data on the use of paratransit by disabled CPS students
- TIP cost data
- TIP records on student training, student learning, and follow up assessment
- Other data on parent, family, teacher, school, or student interaction.
The project will provide several deliverables designed to both inform CPS about the project results and enable the evaluators to proceed in a stepwise fashion to complete the work. These include:
- Literature review
- Initial logic model and final revised logic model
- Specialty program evaluation report
- Full program evaluation plan
The deliverables will be presented to CPS using a mixture of oral presentations, diagrams, written and electronic reports. All collected academic and gray literature will be provided to CPS.
The project will be coordinated by Eric Welch and PS Sriraj, faculty at the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Both faculty members have significant experience with evaluation of public programs. Additionally, the project will hire a Master level graduate student to work on the project. Under supervision, the student will take part in the data collection, analysis and report writing activities.
January 1, 2014 through December 31st 2015.
Total Project Cost $109,374