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IES Grant

Title: Exploring Academic Return on Investment as a Metric to Direct District-level Funding Towards Programs that Improve Student Outcomes
Center: NCER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Hollands, Fiona Awardee: Teachers College, Columbia University
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (07/01/2018 - 06/30/2020) Award Amount: $400,000
Type: Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Award Number: R305H180003

Co-Principal Investigator: Dossett, Dena; Shand, Robert; Pan, Yilin

Partner Institutions: Jefferson County Public Schools (KY)

Purpose:Cost-benefit analyses are useful to decision-makers at a federal or state level but may be less relevant to a school level decision-maker. Academic return on investment (A-ROI) is a practitioner-friendly decision-making tool for annual budget allocation. The main objectives of the partnership's work are to investigate whether and how A-ROI metrics are used to improve decision-making regarding education programs, and to develop a strategy to assess whether these approaches lead to improvements in student education outcomes.

Partnership Activities: The partners will provide training to district staff on how to rigorously document program costs and calculate effectiveness using A-ROI; examine the validity of the A-ROI estimates for 105 programs and identify possible adjustments to reduce bias; and investigate the extent to which A-ROI metrics are used in funding decisions. Finally, the partners will plan longer term research to assess the impact of cycle-based budgeting and use of A-ROI metrics on student outcomes.

Setting: Jefferson County Public Schools is located in Kentucky. The district includes 172 schools, employing nearly 16,000 staff, including 6,600 teachers.

Population/Sample: The district serves 100,600 students from diverse race/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds and from urban (59%), suburban (40%), and rural (1%) areas.

Data Analytic Strategy: Data analytic methods include cost analysis using the "ingredients method," document analysis, personnel interviews with theming and coding of transcripts, and exploratory application of value-added statistical models to student outcome data.

Outcomes: The partners will provide training for district cost center heads and principals in how to use A-ROI; develop presentations for the School Board and Superintendents' Cabinet; present papers at both researcher and practitioner-oriented conferences; create three versions of a free, written brief on the application of A-ROI to decision-making about educational programs; produce academic and practitioner-oriented journal articles; and develop an agenda for future research.