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Washington State Institute for Public Policy

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Found 626 results

Educational Outcomes of Foster Youth--Updated Benchmarks

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Mason Burley - June 2013

This report outlines four outcome measures for tracking the educational progress of students in foster care. Previous research conducted by the Institute has shown disparities in the educational outcomes of foster youth, including a higher dropout rate, lower scores on statewide standardized assessments, and lower high school graduation rates. Improvements in state educational data have resulted in the ability to track student progress since 2005. We can now look at historical trends for many of these outcomes to determine how results have changed over time. This report provides detailed definitions and results on four long-term measures related to the educational status of youth in foster care. These measures include the following:

  • School retention: Nine out of ten (90%) foster youth re-enroll in the following school year (compared to 94% of non-foster youth).
  • Behind grade level: 6% of foster youth and non-foster youth are behind their expected grade level.
  • Adjusted cohort graduation rate: The longitudinal (four-year) graduation rate for youth in long-term foster care was between 35 and 55% (the rate for non-foster youth was between 70 and 75%).
  • Annual graduation rate: Measured on an annual basis, the graduation rate for foster youth was 48% compared to 72% for non-foster students.


Special Commitment Center for Sexually Violent Predators: Potential Paths toward Less Restrictive Alternatives

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Roxanne Lieb, Amber Royster, Matt Lemon - January 2013

Washington State law provides for indefinite civil commitment of persons found to meet criteria as sexually violent predators (SVPs). The Special Commitment Center (SCC) on McNeil Island houses persons who are detained and/or committed as SVPs. The Institute was directed to study several aspects of SCC. Major findings include:

Releases: As of CY 2012, 86 residents have been released from SCC.

Treatment: 37% of residents actively participate in sex offense treatment.

Annual Reviews: A survey of legal practitioners revealed concerns about the timeliness of reviews, with mixed reports regarding the quality.

Senior Clinical Team: SCC’s group of senior clinicians and managers plays a key role in residents’ treatment progression and decision-making regarding readiness for a less restrictive alternative. Some practitioners in the legal community expressed confusion and/or concern about the team’s role.

Less Restrictive Alternatives: Confinement at the state’s Secure Community Transition facilities costs significantly more than confinement at the main facility.

The report includes a response from the Special Commitment Center.

Revised on 1/28/2013 to modify Exhibits 1 and 17.


What Works to Reduce Recidivism by Domestic Violence Offenders?

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Marna Miller, Elizabeth Drake, Mia Nafziger - January 2013

The 2012 Legislature directed the Institute, in collaboration with the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission and experts on domestic violence, to update its analysis of the literature on domestic violence (DV) treatment. We were also directed to 1) report on other treatments and programs for DV offenders and the general offender population; 2) survey other states to study how misdemeanor and felony domestic violence cases are handled; and 3) report recidivism rates for DV offenders in Washington. This first report summarizes our findings regarding DV treatment and other programs and treatments.


Standardizing Protocols for Treatment to Restore Competency to Stand Trial: Interventions and Clinically Appropriate Time Periods

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Patricia Zapf - January 2013

The Washington State Institute for Public Policy (Institute) was directed by the 2012 Legislature to “study and report to the legislature the benefit of standardizing treatment protocols used for restoring competency to stand trial in Washington, and during what clinically appropriate time period said treatment might be expected to be effective.”

To conduct this work, the Institute contracted with a national expert in the field, Dr. Patricia Zapf. This report provides background on the types of interventions (treatments) used throughout the United States for the restoration of competency to stand trial, and research regarding the timelines for restoration. In addition, data on length of stay at Eastern State Hospital and Western State Hospital for incompetent defendants remanded for competence restoration are summarized.


K-12 Class Size Reductions and Student Outcomes: A Review of the Evidence and Benefit-Cost Analysis

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Steve Aos, Annie Pennucci - January 2013

The Washington State Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (Institute) to develop “a repository of research and evaluations of the cost-benefits of various K–12 educational programs and services.”

In this report, we analyze a significant policy question for the legislature: do the benefits of reducing the number of students in K-12 classrooms outweigh the costs?


Bright Futures Guidelines and Washington State Medical Assistance Programs, Revised

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John Bauer - January 2013

The 2012 Legislature directed the Institute to assess the costs and benefits of implementing the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Bright Futures Guidelines for well-child visits and developmental screening in medical assistance programs. Currently, federal regulations require non-grandfathered private health plans to comply with Bright Futures, but state Medicaid programs can choose whether to implement the guidelines or not.

We analyzed Washington Medicaid eligibility, claims and encounter data to assess the likely cost of providing additional well-child visits and developmental screening. We reviewed the literature to examine potential effects on health and other outcomes. We elicited advice from clinical experts and reviewed coverage in other state Medicaid programs and private health insurers.

The Center for Evidence-based Policy (CEbP) at the Oregon Health & Sciences University assisted the Institute by searching for studies that examined (a) the effects of additional well-child visits and developmental screening on outcomes for children and (b) the effectiveness of speech and language interventions. Links to the CEbP reports are provided.

Revised on 1/28/2013 to modify the discussion of developmental screens on p. 17.


Wildfire Suppression Cost Study

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FCS GROUP - January 2013

The 2012 Washington State Legislature appropriated funding to conduct a detailed analysis of potential mechanisms for reducing the amount of and variation in the state’s fire suppression costs. The desired analysis consists of two parts:

  1. An examination of Oregon’s excess forest fire suppression cost insurance program and an analysis of the potential application of this model for Washington, and
  2. An examination of Washington’s total and marginal costs related to staffing and overtime to determine whether these total or marginal costs are in excess of market rates.
Based on this direction, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (Institute) developed a scope of work that incorporated the legislature’s objectives to address two issues: the variability in wildfire suppression budget requirements and fire suppression labor costs. After a competitive selection process, WSIPP contracted with FCS GROUP to conduct the analysis, and the FCS GROUP team worked primarily with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to gather data and information. In addition, FCS GROUP held discussions with key external DNR stakeholders such as the Washington Forest Protection Association, Farm Forestry Association and Weyerhaeuser, and conducted a comparative analysis of how similar programs in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, British Columbia, and the United States Forest Service funded and managed their fire suppression expenditures. This report details this analysis and presents findings from FCS.

For more information, please contact John Bauer at (360) 586-2783, or


Updated Inventory of Evidence-Based, Research-Based, and Promising Practices

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EBPI & WSIPP - January 2013

Inventory of Evidence-Based, Research-Based, and Promising Practices
For Prevention and Intervention Services for Children and Juveniles
in the Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice, and Mental Health Systems

The 2012 Legislature passed E2SHB 2536 with the intention that “prevention and intervention services delivered to children and juveniles in the areas of mental health, child welfare, and juvenile justice be primarily evidence-based and research-based, and it is anticipated that such services will be provided in a manner that is culturally competent.”

The bill directs the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) and the University of Washington Evidence-Based Practice Institute (UW) to publish descriptive definitions and prepare an inventory of evidence-based, research-based, and promising practices and services, and to periodically update the inventory as more practices are identified. This is the first update to the September 30, 2012 publication. The accompanying report describes the inventory update process, as well as the ongoing technical assistance process by UW.


Chemical Dependency Treatment for Offenders: A Review of the Evidence and Benefit-Cost Findings

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Elizabeth Drake - December 2012

The Washington State Institute for Public Policy was directed by the 2012 Legislature to review whether chemical dependency treatment in the adult and juvenile justice systems reduces crime and substance abuse. The Institute was also asked to estimate the monetary benefits and costs of these programs.

We conducted a systematic review of research studies to determine if, on average, these programs have been shown to reduce crime. To narrow our review of this vast literature, we focused on the type of chemical dependency programs funded by Washington taxpayers.

We located 55 unique studies with sufficient research rigor to include in our review. Programs for adult offenders have been evaluated more frequently than for juveniles. Of the 55 studies, 45 evaluated treatments delivered to adults while only 10 were for juveniles.

Our findings indicate a variety of chemical dependency treatments are effective at reducing crime. Recidivism is reduced by 4-9%. Some programs also have benefits that substantially exceed costs.

We found that community case management for adult substance abusers has a larger effect when coupled with “swift and certain.” This finding is consistent with an emerging trend in the criminal justice literature—that swiftness and certainty of punishment has a larger deterrent effect than the severity of punishment.


State Need Grant: Student Profiles and Outcomes

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Mason Burley, Matt Lemon - December 2012

Students who are state residents and have family incomes at or below 70% of the state’s median family income may receive a State Need Grant to pay for the costs of undergraduate tuition. During the 2011–12 academic year, nearly 75,000 students received this grant. In the last 10 years, state spending on this grant program has increased 120% (from $121 million in 2002–03 to $267 million in 2011–12). A sharp increase in the cost of tuition at undergraduate institutions coupled with a growing student population has led to this rise in program expenditures. While the program has historically been able to serve all students who qualify, in recent years, about 30,000 eligible students have been unable to receive a grant.

The 2012 Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to “determine whether the funding for the State Need Grant has been utilized in the most efficient way possible to maximize the enrollment and degree attainment of low-income students.” This report is the first of two detailed analyses on the characteristics and outcomes of State Need Grant students. Descriptive information in this report includes profiles of State Need Grant students, data related to college affordability, enrollment outcomes for State Need Grant students, and a comparison of need-based aid policies in selected states.

Our final report (due December 2013) will evaluate the impact of the State Need Grant program on enrollment and degree completion outcomes, after considering other factors related to student performance.