Evaluation of Small Steps Big Changes: Report on Attempt to Apply Cost-Benefit Analysis
Authors: BICKERTON, C., Lushey, C., PAECHTER, C. and Tura, F.
Place of Publication: NottinghamAbstract:
This paper sets out our findings from an attempt to apply cost benefit analysis (CBA) to Small Steps Big Changes. CBA is a method that is used by economists to determine the effect that a project has on social welfare. It is based on assigning monetary values to relevant economic costs and benefits associated with a project and if the benefits outweigh the costs the project is deemed worthwhile. The application of such an approach to Small Steps Big Changes might appear to be a futile exercise. How do we possibly assign a monetary value to interventions that target pre-school children? This is clearly a difficult exercise but is nevertheless one that has been tackled elsewhere, most notably in the United States of America.
Before presenting the findings from an attempt to apply CBA to Small Steps Big Changes as part of the wider evaluation project, we briefly set out the principles of CBA and review the literature, both academic and non-academic, where CBA has been applied to pre-school interventions. A number of influential studies in the academic economics literature are based on the HighScope Perry Pre-School project in Michigan and the Carolina Abecedarian project in the USA. In the UK there are a small number of studies on publicly funded pre-school education initiatives. This literature review provides the basis for the approach that we intended to apply in the evaluation of Small Steps Big Changes. In particular the literature review highlights the nature of the benefits that we might expect to be generated and how it would be possible to generate monetary values for these, along with the findings from previous CBA studies.
We had then intended to present our findings for Small Steps Big Changes including, where possible, a breakdown of the results for constituent projects of Small Steps Big Changes. However as the evaluation proceeded it became apparent that this was not going to be possible. Instead we report on the challenges that were encountered so that these can be addressed in any future evaluation of this type of activity.
Source: BURO EPrints