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The Cost Analysis in Practice (CAP) Project

Money cost saving for goal and success in school, education concept : US dollar bills / cash in hessian bags, a black graduation cap or hat, a certificate / diploma and a book on simple balance scale.
Support and guidance for education researchers conducting cost analysis
  • Client
    Institute of Education Sciences (via Teachers College, Columbia University)
  • Dates
    2022 - 2023


Few education researchers know how to conduct economic evaluations.

In recent years, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), state education agencies, foundations, and other organizations have increasingly requested that studies include an economic evaluation such as cost or cost-effectiveness analysis. Education leaders have finite resources to invest in programs, and they want to understand an intervention's costs as well as its potential outcomes. But few education evaluators and analysts are trained to measure and assess costs and combine them with educational results to create cost-effectiveness comparisons. In addition, cost analysis requires specific information and instruments that are not typically available in textbooks or journal articles. That expertise is only built through practice. 


The CAP Project provides real-time guidance and tools for cost analysis. 

Teachers College, Columbia University, partnered with NORC to co-lead a solution creating the Cost Analysis in Practice (CAP) Project. With funding from IES at the U.S. Department of Education, the CAP Project provides real-time support and guidance to researchers and practitioners conducting cost analysis. That support includes multiple templates and tools with concrete details and step-by-step instructions to meet that end. The CAP Project also provides on-demand coaching and technical assistance to build the capacity of researchers and practitioners as they design or conduct a cost analysis. 


Researchers and practitioners employ multiple resources to support economic assessment.

The CAP Project team has provided long-term support to researchers and practitioners and helped over 80 different research teams via its help desk. One requestor shared, "If they ever try and do a cost-benefit analysis of CAP, I'm sure it'll fall short of capturing all the amazing benefits of the work you and your team do. I cannot thank you all enough." 

In addition, the CAP Project website has recorded almost 2,000 downloads of its resources. When the CAP Project ends, users will have access to a series of asynchronous learning modules to learn more about cost analysis and continue to access direct guidance.  

Learn More About the Study

The CAP Project is an initiative to provide free, on-demand tools, guidance, and technical assistance to researchers and practitioners who are planning or conducting economic evaluations to inform the delivery of education to students in the US. Visit the project website for more information.

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