Approaches to Cost-effectiveness Analysis in Compensatory Education

Hawkridge, David (1971). Approaches to Cost-effectiveness Analysis in Compensatory Education. Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University, Milton Keynes.


The report deals problems of applying cost-effectiveness analysis to compensatory education projects (for disadvantaged learners). It summarises views of opponents and proponents of such analysis of such projects, and indicates, with examples, what the analysis implies in the special context of compensatory education. The educational data needs are discussed in detail: problems of definition and categorisation are identified and the immaturities of the analytical systems available are examined. The cost data needs are noted too and problems of prediction are outlined. Comparisons are drawn with industrial cost-effectiveness analysis, in which many similar difficulties have been met. Examples are drawn from Prest and Turvey's (1965) study for the Rockefeller Foundation.
A critical review follows of recent American studies of cost-effectiveness analysis in education generally and in compensatory education in particular. Different ways of calculating benefits are discussed in the light of several studies, particularly the Technomics (1967) report and its proposed cluster analyses.
The paper asserts that cost-effectiveness analysis in compensatory education cannot proceed until there is evidence that alternative successful treatments exist. These are very scarce. The paper ends with suggestions for improving data collection techniques in projects and a plea that the limitations of cost-effectiveness analysis should be recognised. A bibliography is included.

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