Cost-effectiveness analysis of a school-based social and emotional learning and literacy intervention

Katherine Long, Fordham University


The objectives of this study were to (a) improve on establishing a standardized and transparent methodology for conducting a basic cost analysis for a school-based social and emotional learning (SEL) intervention; (b) determine the economic costs of the intervention over 3 years, and (c) provide a cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) by cumulative years to enable a school district to make better informed policy decisions regarding whether to implement the intervention in additional schools. The SEL intervention used in this study was the 4Rs (Reading, Writing, Respect and Resolution) Program, which integrates the teaching of SEL and literacy skills for children in Grades K–5. To date, a 3-year (six-wave) longitudinal, school-randomized controlled trial involving 18 New York City public elementary schools (nine intervention schools and nine control schools) has demonstrated positive impacts on students’ SEL skills after 1 year and 2 years of intervention (Jones, Brown, Hoglund, & Aber, 2010; Jones, Brown, & Aber, 2011). The 4Rs Program costs were identified using the Cost–Procedure–Process–Outcome Analysis Model (Yates, 1996) and the Ingredients Model (Levin, 1983). The 4Rs effectiveness data from Year 1 and Years 1–2 was obtained from past impact studies (Jones et al., 2010, Jones et al., 2011), and used to create cost-effectiveness ratios for 4Rs Program outcomes. Results show the overall cost of the 4Rs Program to be approximately $2.6 million to implement in nine schools for 3 years. Specifically, the cost of 4Rs Program implementation was $884,485 in Year 1 ($98,276 on average per school or $178 on average per student), $899,132 in Year 2 ($99,904 per school or $181 on average per student), and $804,248 in Year 3 ($89,361 per school or $162 on average per student). Findings show the 4Rs Program becomes more cost effective the longer it is implemented, based on the outcome of hostile attribution biases, which is in the Social-Cognitive Processes and Symptomatology domain. In conclusion, this study provided a set of standardized and transparent cost methods that educators, policymakers, and researchers can use in their evaluations. Specifically, the results of this study’s CEA offer some evidence that the 4Rs Program becomes more cost-effective the longer it is implemented across a 2-year timeframe.

Subject Area

Educational evaluation|Psychology

Recommended Citation

Long, Katherine, "Cost-effectiveness analysis of a school-based social and emotional learning and literacy intervention" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3732668.