skip to main content
Washington State Institute for Public Policy
Back Button

Communities in Schools

Public Health & Prevention: School-based
Benefit-cost methods last updated December 2023.  Literature review updated September 2018.
Open PDF
Communities in Schools (CIS) is a dropout prevention program that integrates community and school-based support services. Site coordinators identify students, conduct individual needs assessments, create individual case plans, administer services either directly or by referral to school or community resources, and monitor student progress. CIS services may be delivered by school staff, volunteers, or community partners, and may occur in group or individual format. CIS provides three tiers of services: Level 1 services are short-term, low-intensity and available to the whole school, while Level 2 and 3 services are sustained, case management services provided individually to high-risk students. In a given school year, students typically received 17 hours of service across 18 contacts. Studies in this analysis assess the impact of schoolwide services alone, case management only, or both. Interventions were implemented in elementary, middle, and high schools. On average, students received CIS services for three school years.
For an overview of WSIPP's Benefit-Cost Model, please see this guide. The estimates shown are present value, life cycle benefits and costs. All dollars are expressed in the base year chosen for this analysis (2022). 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 $1,107 Benefits minus costs $4,293
Participants $2,339 Benefit to cost ratio $15.52
Others $1,233 Chance the program will produce
Indirect ($90) benefits greater than the costs 57%
Total benefits $4,588
Net program cost ($296)
Benefits minus cost $4,293

^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. See Estimating Program Effects Using Effect Sizes for additional information.

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 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
9 6 393 0.028 0.092 11 0.020 0.102 17 0.042 0.372
9 1 155 -0.089 0.472 10 -0.089 0.472 10 -0.089 0.850
9 3 259 0.075 0.155 10 n/a n/a n/a 0.075 0.629
9 1 41 0.014 0.091 18 n/a n/a n/a 0.044 0.629
9 2 878 0.092 0.104 10 n/a n/a n/a 0.092 0.377
9 3 244 0.200 0.155 10 n/a n/a n/a 0.200 0.197
9 5 1040 0.082 0.112 10 n/a n/a n/a 0.082 0.467
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
Affected outcome: Resulting benefits:1 Benefits accrue to:
Taxpayers Participants Others2 Indirect3 Total
Test scores Labor market earnings associated with test scores $993 $2,339 $1,233 $0 $4,564
K-12 grade repetition K-12 grade repetition $115 $0 $0 $57 $172
Program cost Adjustment for deadweight cost of program $0 $0 $0 ($148) ($148)
Totals $1,107 $2,339 $1,233 ($90) $4,588
Click here to see populations selected
Detailed Annual Cost Estimates Per Participant
Annual cost Year dollars Summary
Program costs $88 2017 Present value of net program costs (in 2022 dollars) ($296)
Comparison costs $0 2017 Cost range (+ or -) 25%
Per-participant costs were constructed based on cost information provided by the Communities in Schools-Washington office in October 2018. We estimate the average annual cost per student by dividing the total cost to administer CIS in Washington during the 2016-17 school year by the total number of students served. We assume each participant received CIS services for three years, as reported in the included studies.
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.
Benefits Minus Costs
Benefits by Perspective
Taxpayer Benefits by Source of Value
Benefits Minus Costs Over Time (Cumulative 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 discounted dollars. 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.

Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Figlio, D. (2015). Experimental evidence of the effects of the Communities In Schools of Chicago Partnership Program on student achievement. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

ICF International. (2011). Communities in Schools national evaluation: Randomized controlled trial in Wichita, Kansas. 2011 follow-on report.

ICF International. (2010). Communities in Schools national evaluation volume 4: Randomized controlled trial study, Jacksonville, Florida.

ICF International. (2010). Communities in Schools national evaluation volume 5: Randomized controlled trial study, Austin,Texas.

ICF International (2008). Communities in Schools national evaluation volume 1: School-level report. Parise, L.M., Corrin, W., Granito, K., Haider, Z., Somers, M.-A., Cerna, O., & MDRC. (2017). Two years of case management: Final findings from the Communities in Schools random assignment evaluation. MDRC.