Determining R.O.I. for Education
Published in TC Today - Volume 37, No. 2
TC’s Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education (CBCSE), backed by a $500,000 grant from the federal Institute of Education Studies (IES), is making its methods widely available to other researchers.
The goal of the IES-funded project is to demonstrate how to conduct cost-effectiveness analysis in education and to promote its use among policymakers to improve the productivity of resource allocation decisions.
CBCSE was founded by Henry Levin, TC’s William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education, and his colleague, Clive Belfield, Professor of Economics at Queens College. During the early 1970s, at the request of a Congressional committee headed by then Senator Walter Mondale, Levin conducted the first major analysis of the financial impact on the nation of the failure to graduate from high school.
In 2005, armed with more sophisticated tools and methodologies, Levin repeated that exercise, and – together with colleagues at Columbia, Princeton, Rutgers and other institutions – calculated the costs to society, in terms of lost tax revenue and the added burden on the health care, welfare and prison systems, associated with failure to graduate.
Since founding CBCSE, Levin and Belfield have repeatedly demonstrated that significant return on investment could be achieved if proven strategies to boost graduation rates were implemented on a broad scale.
The IES-funded project includes a 2012 report showing that among five programs with a positive impact on high school completion rates, those targeting youths who had already dropped out were significantly more expensive. CBCSE also is developing a set of resources that constitute a Cost Tool Kit to facilitate the collection of cost data for educational programs.