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A Mixed-Methods Approach for Embedding Cost Analysis Within Fidelity Assessment in School-Based Programs

NCJ Number
Behavioral Disorders Dated: 2020
Date Published

This mixed-methods study presents a framework for conducting cost analyses of school-based programs by leveraging fidelity data and applying the ingredients method.


This approach is illustrated by applying it to Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), drawing on multiple sources of data from a sample of 77 schools that were trained in PBIS. The study concluded that the average per school cost of PBIS was $53,216.00 (median = $36,698), with an average per-pupil cost of $90.00 (median = $58.00), which is considerably less than other school-based prevention models. The cost did, however, differ by implementation level, such that high-fidelity implementation tended to cost more than low-fidelity implementation. A case illustration is provided to show some of the cost drivers of PBIS implementation. Specifically, these data highlight the variability in the amount of training and coaching by the specific evidence-based program implemented within the tiered PBIS framework. This case illustration demonstrates the utility of tracking costs of school-based programs within the context of fidelity data collection. The findings also suggest the potential cost savings of PBIS, both when compared with other evidence-based interventions, as well as the known costs of negative school outcomes such as dropout. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020