The Economics of Social and Emotional Learning

Positive Action is priced by the classroom and each kit provides enough materials for 30 students. This modular design enables schools and districts to implement the program at a granular level, reducing the overall cost of program implementation when compared to other pricing models.

Positive Action is also a better overall value as it provides more content than any other Social and Emotional Learning program. In Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 6, each grade level features 140 lessons. Many other programs are more expensive per grade level and have far fewer lessons.

Unlike many publishers, Positive Action retains its own production capacity which allows the company to keep production costs low. This advantage reduces the need for frequent price increases and provides quick turnaround for most products. Other programs often outsource their printing and production needs to outside vendors. With a well-managed and mature supply chain, Positive Action can keep its prices affordable even as many industrial commodities outpace consumer inflation.

More content
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Implementing Positive Action can provide substantial savings at every level of government. Three independent analyses have been performed to estimate the potential savings from implementing Positive Action. To better understand the significance of the findings, it is important to understand the methods of calculating benefits. The first is an economic model that incorporates external benefits to determine value. This approach is referred to as the Cost-Benefit Ratio (CBR).

The more commonly understood accounting model is the Return on Investment (ROI). This model considers the amount of the investment and the profit it generates. The analyses that have been performed have used the CBR model, which requires analysts to make certain assumptions and assign value to all the affected groups. The ROI has been calculated as a reference that is better understood by many educators.

Do the math

Cost Benefits Ratio
CBR = Benefits / Costs
Return on Investment
ROI = ((Benefits – Costs) / Costs) x 100

State Reports

Washington State Institute for Public Policy

An analysis performed by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) found that Positive Action provided the most economic benefit through cost savings than any other educational program.

Outcomes:

Cost-Benefit Ratio (CBR)
$32.36
Return on Investment (ROI)
3,136%

WSIPP researchers concluded that Positive Action can provide a cost-benefit ratio of $32. This means for every dollar spent implementing and teaching Positive Action, local and state governments can save at least $32.36 in other services that would otherwise be dispensed in a reactionary form.

The theoretical ROI for implementing Positive Action, based on this ratio, is 3,136%. The report also concluded that implementing Positive Action has a 95% chance of the benefits exceeding the cost.

View Report

What is WSIPP?

WSIPP is nonpartisan research group that provides in-depth analysis to relevant policy questions. The group employs a multidisciplinary team of researchers who provide policy research for lawmakers. It is internationally recognized for the quality of its research, most notably, cost-benefit analyses. To find out more, click here

Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Report

In 2019, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), in collaboration with the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative set out to assess the impact of various evidence-based programs. The methodology is based on the WSIPP approach but tailored for Pennsylvania using state-specific data on cost and population. Positive Action was selected for analysis and again achieved the highest CBR out of all the programs reviewed.

Like the Columbia study, the PCCD analysis features three models of sensitivity: low, medium and high. The medium, or middle-of-the-road, sensitivity reports a CBR of $217.89, or an ROI of 21,689%.

Outcomes:

Cost-Benefit Ratio (CBR)
$217.89
Return on Investment (ROI)
21,689%
View Report

Analyses

Teachers College, Columbia University

In 2015, a group of researchers at the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education (https://www.cbcse.org/) conducted a comprehensive analysis on the economics of Social and Emotional Learning. The completed report, “The Economic Value of Social and Emotional Learning” features a robust statistical approach to cost-benefit analysis that includes the economic concept of opportunity cost and the cost-accounting approach known as the ingredients method. The group considered five different sensitivity settings in their analysis. The average across each of the settings indicate a CBR of $10.14, or an ROI of 914%.

Outcomes:

Cost-Benefit Ratio (CBR)
$10.14
Return on Investment (ROI)
914%
View Report

Outcomes Table

Cost Benefit Ratio (CBR)
Return on Investment (ROI)
Washington
$32.36
3,136%
Pennsylvania
$217.89
21,689%
Columbia
$10.14
914%
Average
$86.80
8,580%

Financial Benefits Explained

There are many ways to describe the financial benefits that are described in these analyses. A contextual perspective is provided in Los Angeles County where a detailed analysis was performed on the cost for juvenile detention. Analysts estimated the costs at more than $233,000 per offender, per year1. To put that number in perspective, the same amount of money would be enough to implement Positive Action in 15 average-sized elementary schools. For every potential juvenile offender diverted from the justice system by implementing Positive Action, local municipalities and states can attain significant savings.

When the total cost of reporting, investigating, apprehending, prosecuting, sentencing, transporting, incarcerating, and rehabilitating juvenile offenders is considered, it is easy to see the economic value of effective prevention through the implementation of Positive Action.

This is only one dimension of the potential economic benefits associated with implementing Positive Action. Also consider the costs associated with various health issues that can be prevented. From alcohol use to illicit drugs, the direct and indirect costs of substance use is considerable.

While each of these analyses looks at the cost-savings value of prevention, they fail to consider the economic growth that could also be attributable. In one longitudinal study, researchers found that:

Positive Action increased the number of students who pursued higher education after high school by 38%
38%
Positive Action reduced high school drop out rates by 37%
37%
Positive Action increased employment after high school by 18%
18%

According to a study conducted by the Brookings Institute, students who obtain a bachelor’s degree will earn twice as much as a student who only completes high school2.

Conclusions

The implementation of a Social and Emotional Learning program is one of the most important curricula decisions a school or district will consider. It can affect the culture and climate of a school in ways that cannot be numerated or easily summarized. Not only is Positive Action more effective than other Social and Emotional Learning programs, it is more cost-effective to implement and is the most likely to produce measurable results.