Boosting high school graduation rates would save taxpayers $127,000 per student, estimates a Teachers College study. Cutting the drop-out rate in half would boost tax revenues and lower health, crime, law enforcement and welfare costs by $45 billion annually, conclude the researchers.
â€œThe Costs and Benefits of an Excellent Education for Americaâ€™s Childrenâ€ calls for increasing graduation rates the hard way — by teaching students better, not just handing diplomas to students who haven’t earned one. Five cost-effective education models are recommended:
Â· Perry Pre-School … provides children with 1.8 years of a center-based program for 2.5 hours per weekday, offering a child-to-teach ratio of 5:1; home visits; and group meetings of parents. The researchers estimate that, implemented on a broad scale, Perryâ€™s benefit-to-cost ratio would be 2.31 to 1, and that it would create an additional 19 new high school graduates per 100 students.
Â· Class-size reduction. This approach â€“ based on the parameters of Project Star, a four-year, randomized field trial in Tennessee â€“ would include four years of schooling (from kindergarten through third grade) with class size reduced from 25 to 15. The researchers estimate that, implemented on a broad scale, class-size reduction along these lines would achieve a benefit-to-cost ratio of 1.46 to 1, and that it would create an additional 11 new high school graduates per 100 students.
Â· First Things First, a comprehensive school reform of small learning communities that includes dedicated teachers, family advocates and instructional improvement. FTF would achieve an estimated benefit-to-cost ratio of 3.54 to 1 and create an additional 16 high school graduates per 100 students.
Â· Chicago Child-Parent Center Program. A center-based preschool program with parental involvement, outreach and health/nutrition services, based in public schools. This approach would achieve an estimated benefit-to-cost ratio of 3.09 to 1 and create an additional 11 high school graduates per 100 students.
Â· Teacher salary increase of 10 percent for all years K-12. This approach would achieve an estimated benefit-to-cost ratio of 2.55 to 1 and create an additional five high school graduates per 100 students.
Implementing the most cost-effective models would not be trivial. Look at what happened to Perry Preschool, the inspiration for the not-very-effective Head Start program.
I’d be interested in Richard Colvin’s take on the preschool recommendations. Can we replicate Perry or the Chicago program?