Cost Modeling

APA has a deep experience in developing interactive models to help policymakers and practitioners interpret data. Through our models, complex data can be more easily understood and users can model the impact of a variety of changes. Our web-based and Excel-based models have been used by school districts, states, and non-profit organizations to better understand policy decisions in the education field and beyond.

Please click on the links below to learn more about our cost modeling work. To download a fact sheet summarizing our work in this area, please click here.

APA has developed state-specific interactive cost models for comprehensive early childhood programs for children birth through age five. These models provide a clear picture of the current state of systems and allow users to modify program elements. Users can evaluate the impact of modifications on costs, funding and coverage, as well as assessing the policy consequences of changes on a comprehensive early childhood system. Development and use of these models can create understanding and consensus, strengthen public engagement, and result in more deeply informed policy deliberations and decisions.

APA created interactive cost models in Colorado, New York, Minnesota and Massachusetts. Our approach allows participants to have policy discussions that are informed by data and create a deeper understanding of the tradeoffs inherent in complex policy areas. The models allow users to adjust the design of current or proposed programs and understand the likely impact. For example, in a state considering investing more money in preschool for three-year olds, the models can describe the cost impact and change in the number of children served, as a result of a change in income eligibility. We have also developed a cost of quality model for the U.S. Office of Child Care, which helps states estimate the provider cost at different levels of quality.

For more details about our ECE cost model projects, please click here.

APA has used our experience in cost modeling to develop a variety of tools focused on educators. For the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), APA constructed a cost model to estimate the Tough Choices or Tough Times policy recommendations. One section of the model examined the costs involved in moving from a traditional teacher salary schedule to a teacher career ladder system similar to systems advocated by the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP).

For the National Center on Time and Learning, APA developed the Classroom Time Analysis Tool and the School Time Analysis Tool. These interactive web-based tools enable teachers and school leaders to analyze how time is being used within their school year and within a specific lesson. The data provided by the tools can be manipulated to model how changing elements of the school calendar, such as length of day or transition time, effects the amount of instructional time students receive. The models were built on Excel spreadsheets developed by NCTL which APA helped translate into online tools that can be also be utilized on mobile devices.

APA designed a model for Jefferson County Public Schools in Colorado that examined a proposed compensation change. The model allowed the district to examine the difference in costs between their current system and the proposed system. The proposed system included a limited salary schedule with numerous additions to pay based on professional development accomplishments and new roles. APA staff worked with the district to create more specifics around the conceptual base for the proposed model and used that information to create a five year cost estimate for the district. APA also modeled the projected impacts for individual teachers.

APA has created a model that allow states to understand the cost impacts of changing resource allocations. Building on our adequacy work we designed a model that allows users to change specific resource allocations at the school and district levels in order to understand the system-wide impact of the change. Policymakers can use the model to understand the overall cost of the ideal system or to understand the best way to allocate limited resources. The model is extremely flexible and allows the user to not only adjust school and district level resources but also to adjust salaries, the cost of other educational resources such as technology, inflation rates (to model over future years), and other parameters of the system. The model is in the final stages of development and is a great long term tool for state policymakers hoping to understand the cost of educational programs.