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Quantum Opportunities Program

Public Health & Prevention: Community-based
Benefit-cost methods last updated December 2018.  Literature review updated April 2012.
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The Quantum Opportunities Program (QOP) provides year-round services for disadvantaged high school students. The program's main goal is to improve academic deficiencies among high school-aged youth with low grades who are at risk of dropping out of school. Students enroll as they enter high school; are mentored by program coordinators; and engage in 250 hours of activity in each of three areas every year—education, community service and development activities meant to reduce risky behavior, promote cultural awareness and/or promote recreation. Students are also provided financial incentives, through stipends and bonuses, for participating in QOP activities and remaining in school.
The estimates shown are present value, life cycle benefits and costs. All dollars are expressed in the base year chosen for this analysis (2017). The chance the benefits exceed the costs are derived from a Monte Carlo risk analysis. The details on this, as well as the economic discount rates and other relevant parameters are described in our Technical Documentation.
Benefit-Cost Summary Statistics Per Participant
Benefits to:
Taxpayers $14,251 Benefits minus costs $4,147
Participants $17,031 Benefit to cost ratio $1.15
Others $12,257 Chance the program will produce
Indirect ($11,570) benefits greater than the costs 52 %
Total benefits $31,969
Net program cost ($27,822)
Benefits minus cost $4,147
1In addition to the outcomes measured in the meta-analysis table, WSIPP measures benefits and costs estimated from other outcomes associated with those reported in the evaluation literature. For example, empirical research demonstrates that high school graduation leads to reduced crime. These associated measures provide a more complete picture of the detailed costs and benefits of the program.

2“Others” includes benefits to people other than taxpayers and participants. Depending on the program, it could include reductions in crime victimization, the economic benefits from a more educated workforce, and the benefits from employer-paid health insurance.

3“Indirect benefits” includes estimates of the net changes in the value of a statistical life and net changes in the deadweight costs of taxation.
Detailed Monetary Benefit Estimates Per Participant
Benefits from changes to:1 Benefits to:
Taxpayers Participants Others2 Indirect3 Total
Crime $2,313 $0 $6,145 $1,170 $9,628
Labor market earnings associated with high school graduation $10,668 $23,492 $10,801 $0 $44,960
Labor market earnings associated with alcohol abuse or dependence ($1,278) ($2,814) $0 $0 ($4,092)
Health care associated with alcohol abuse or dependence ($132) ($21) ($144) ($67) ($364)
Property loss associated with alcohol abuse or dependence $0 ($5) ($9) $0 ($14)
Public assistance $1,472 ($625) $0 $744 $1,590
Health care associated with educational attainment $3,568 ($976) ($3,893) $1,797 $495
Costs of higher education ($2,351) ($1,996) ($654) ($1,189) ($6,190)
Mortality associated with alcohol ($2) ($3) $0 ($27) ($32)
Subtotals $14,258 $17,051 $12,245 $2,428 $45,982
From secondary participant
Labor market earnings associated with high school graduation $10 $21 $10 $0 $40
K-12 grade repetition $0 $0 $0 $0 $1
Health care associated with educational attainment $3 ($1) $3 $2 $7
Costs of higher education ($2) ($2) ($1) ($1) ($5)
Mortality associated with smoking ($18) ($39) $0 $0 ($57)
Subtotals ($6) ($21) $12 $1 ($14)
Adjustment for deadweight cost of program $0 $0 $0 ($13,999) ($13,999)
Totals $14,251 $17,031 $12,257 ($11,570) $31,969
Detailed Annual Cost Estimates Per Participant
Annual cost Year dollars Summary
Program costs $5,000 2006 Present value of net program costs (in 2017 dollars) ($27,822)
Comparison costs $0 2006 Cost range (+ or -) 30 %
Average cost per youth is $25,000 for five years. We used a 30% uncertainty estimate around this figure because the average costs vary widely by site, as reported by Maxfield, M., Schirm, A., & Rodriguez-Planas, N. (2003). The Quantum Opportunity Program demonstration: Implementation and short-term impacts (Document No. PR03-18). Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research, p. 12.
The figures shown are estimates of the costs to implement programs in Washington. The comparison group costs reflect either no treatment or treatment as usual, depending on how effect sizes were calculated in the meta-analysis. The cost range reported above reflects potential variation or uncertainty in the cost estimate; more detail can be found in our Technical Documentation.
Estimated Cumulative Net Benefits Over Time (Non-Discounted Dollars)
The graph above illustrates the estimated cumulative net benefits per-participant for the first fifty years beyond the initial investment in the program. We present these cash flows in non-discounted dollars to simplify the “break-even” point from a budgeting perspective. If the dollars are negative (bars below $0 line), the cumulative benefits do not outweigh the cost of the program up to that point in time. The program breaks even when the dollars reach $0. At this point, the total benefits to participants, taxpayers, and others, are equal to the cost of the program. If the dollars are above $0, the benefits of the program exceed the initial investment.

^WSIPP’s benefit-cost model does not monetize this outcome.

^^WSIPP does not include this outcome when conducting benefit-cost analysis for this program.

Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine the results from separate studies on a program, policy, or topic in order to estimate its effect on an outcome. WSIPP systematically evaluates all credible evaluations we can locate on each topic. The outcomes measured are the types of program impacts that were measured in the research literature (for example, crime or educational attainment). Treatment N represents the total number of individuals or units in the treatment group across the included studies.

An effect size (ES) is a standard metric that summarizes the degree to which a program or policy affects a measured outcome. If the effect size is positive, the outcome increases. If the effect size is negative, the outcome decreases.

Adjusted effect sizes are used to calculate the benefits from our benefit cost model. WSIPP may adjust effect sizes based on methodological characteristics of the study. For example, we may adjust effect sizes when a study has a weak research design or when the program developer is involved in the research. The magnitude of these adjustments varies depending on the topic area.

WSIPP may also adjust the second ES measurement. Research shows the magnitude of some effect sizes decrease over time. For those effect sizes, we estimate outcome-based adjustments which we apply between the first time ES is estimated and the second time ES is estimated. We also report the unadjusted effect size to show the effect sizes before any adjustments have been made. More details about these adjustments can be found in our Technical Documentation.

Meta-Analysis of Program Effects
Outcomes measured Treatment age Primary or secondary participant No. of effect sizes Treatment N Adjusted effect sizes(ES) and standard errors(SE) used in the benefit - cost analysis Unadjusted effect size (random effects model)
First time ES is estimated Second time ES is estimated
ES SE Age ES SE Age ES p-value
Alcohol use disorder 14 Primary 1 580 0.093 0.197 22 0.093 0.197 32 0.093 0.638
Crime 14 Primary 2 636 -0.230 0.384 19 -0.230 0.384 29 -0.231 0.548
Employment^^ 14 Primary 2 636 0.188 0.222 22 n/a n/a n/a 0.188 0.397
High school graduation 14 Primary 3 724 0.340 0.178 19 0.340 0.178 19 0.340 0.056
Public assistance 14 Primary 3 724 -0.112 0.182 21 -0.112 0.182 21 -0.112 0.539
Suspensions/expulsions^ 14 Primary 1 580 -0.100 0.249 16 n/a n/a n/a -0.100 0.688
Teen births under age 18 14 Primary 2 668 -0.138 0.242 19 -0.138 0.242 19 -0.138 0.569
Teen births (second generation) 1 Secondary 2 668 -0.138 0.242 19 -0.138 0.242 19 -0.138 0.569

Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Hahn, A., Leavitt, T., & Aaron, P. (1994). Evaluation of the Quantum Opportunities Program (QOP): Did the program work? A report on the post secondary outcomes and cost effectiveness of the QOP program (1989-1993). Waltham, MA: Brandeis University, Center for Human Resources.

Lattimore, C.B., Mihalic, S.F., Grotpeter, J.K., & Taggart, R. (1998). Blueprints for violence prevention, book four: The Quantum Opportunities Program (Document No. NCJ 174197). Boulder: University of Colorado, Boulder; Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence.

Maxfield, M., Schirm, A., & Rodriguez-Planas, N. (2003). The Quantum Opportunity Program demonstration: Implementation and short-term impacts (Document No. PR03-18). Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.

Schirm, A., Stuart, E., & McKie, A. (2006). The Quantum Opportunity Program Demonstration: Final impacts (Document No. PR06- 70). Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.