Panel Paper: Cost Analysis of the Kentucky Targeted Interventions Program

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Governor's Square 15 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jesse Levin, Lynn Hu, Maryan Carbuccia-Abbott and Ethan Adelman-Sil, American Institutes for Research

Targeted Interventions (TI) are an important component of Kentucky’s comprehensive system of education reform and represent one of the key levers to fulfilling the Commonwealth’s commitment to college- and career-readiness for all students. In 2014-15 and 2015-16, the program required students in Kentucky’s public high schools who were deemed to need additional support in reading, writing and/or mathematics to be referred to targeted instructional interventions.

The study enhances an existing statewide research evaluation of the effects of TI services on student college readiness outcomes by adding a cost analysis of the effort involved in implementing these services. Specifically, the study will identify the personnel and non-personnel resources used to deliver TI services in a selected number of school sites and translates these specified resources into dollar values. The cost findings will then be used in concert with those of the outcome evaluation to develop measures of cost-effectiveness (i.e., the cost per-unit of outcome generated by the services delivered under TI).

Specific study questions include:

  1. What types of targeted interventions were provided to 12 graders across Kentucky high schools in the study years?
  2. What personnel and non-personnel resources were devoted to implementing targeted interventions and what were their costs?

To answer these research questions, we will rely on interviews with district- and school-level staff who are most knowledgeable about the interventions offered at the schools in the study sample. To address the second and third research questions the research team will use data collected through development of a Resource Cost Model (RCM), which is based on the ingredients approach to cost analysis (Levin et al., 2018). Populating the RCM involves modeling the structure and “ingredients” of services as they are actually provided under the intervention. The approach is considered the gold standard in calculating intervention costs and represents a systematic well-tested process for identifying all the comprehensive costs for implementing intervention services. It relies on collecting primary data on resource utilization from practitioners to identify the personnel (e.g. time spent by staff) and non-personnel used and applying market compensation rates and prices to the resource specifications to derive costs.

The study will include a random sample of 12 districts and one high school in each district from throughout the state from which to collect cost data via online surveys of certificated staff. These data will be used to populate the RCM to generate program costs for each sample site. The cost findings will be used to provide context for the findings of the KY TI impact analysis – see separate paper submitted for this panel by Zeyu Xu and Ben Backes.

The presentation will draw from the key study findings to briefly describe the types of interventions used, decompose the costs devoted to different staff and non-personnel resources, and provide the average per-pupil cost of providing interventions across study sites.