Cost-Effectiveness of Comprehensive School Reform in Low Achieving Schools

  • John A. Ross University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
  • Garth Scott Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board
  • Tim M. Sibbald Thames Valley District School Board
Keywords: literacy, costs, benefits, cost-effectiveness

Abstract

We evaluated the cost-effectiveness of Struggling Schools, a user-generated approach to Comprehensive School Reform implemented in 100 low achieving schools serving disadvantaged students in a Canadian province. The results show that while Struggling Schools had a statistically significant positive effect on Grade 3 Reading achievement, d=.48 in 2005-06 and .60 in 2006-07, the program was not cost-effective when compared to two alternatives:

1. The cost of bringing one student to the provincial achievement standard was more than 25% higher in Struggling Schools than in the status quo.
2. The cost-effectiveness ratio (i.e., effect size per $1,000 of incremental cost) was lower in Struggling Schools than in Success For All.

Struggling Schools would have been deemed to be cost-effective if different choices had been made, especially in (a) the calculation of costs (e.g., the inclusion of donated time), (b) the decision rules for declaring cost-effectiveness, and (c) the studies used to access comparative data.

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Nous avons évalué le rapport cout-efficacité du programme Struggling Schools (écoles en difficulté), une approche générée par l'utilisateur à la réforme d'ensemble des écoles mise en œuvre dans 100 écoles peu performantes desservant des élèves défavorisés dans une province canadienne. Les résultats indiquent que si l'effet du programme Struggling Schools sur le rendement en lecture en 3e année était statistiquement significatif et positif (d= 0,48 en 2005-06 et 0,60 en 2006-07), son rapport cout-efficacité n'était pas aussi intéressant que celui des deux alternatives suivantes:

1. Le cout de rehausser le rendement d'un élève pour qu'il atteigne le standard provincial était plus élevé de 25% avec Struggling Schools par rapport au statut quo.
2. Le rapport cout-efficacité (c.-à-d. l'effet par 1 000$ de cout différentiel) du programme Struggling Schools était plus bas que celui du programme Success for All.

Le programme Struggling Schools aurait été jugé rentable si on avait choisi autrement, notamment par rapport (a) au calcul des couts (par ex. l'inclusion de la main d'œuvre à titre gratuit), (b) aux règlements portant sur les décisions quant aux critères de rentabilité, et (c) aux études employées pour accéder aux données de comparaison.

Author Biographies

John A. Ross, University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
John A. Ross is Professor Emeritus of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto and head of the Institute's field centre in Peterborough, Ontario. His research interests are school change, mathematics education, student assessment, and program evaluation. OISE/Trent Valley Centre, PO Box 7190, 1994 Fisher Dr., Peterborough, ON K9J 7A1; jross@oise.utoronto.ca
Garth Scott, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board
Garth Scott is a Secondary school department head in the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board (Peterborough, Ontario) and a Research Associate at the OISE/UT Trent Valley Centre. His research interests are mathematics education and school improvement.garth_scott@kprdsb.ca
Tim M. Sibbald, Thames Valley District School Board
Tim M. Sibbald is a Secondary school mathematics teacher in Thames Valley District School Board (London, Ontario) and is an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Western Ontario. His research interests are mathematics education and school improvement. spsibbal@uwo.ca ; 34 Stonehenge Pl, London, ON N5V 4C5
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