Everyone everywhere always wants “the biggest bang for their buck” possible. Responsible allocation of public funds may not be your most exciting job description, yet it is probably one of your most important responsibilities.
Taxpayers and other stakeholders deserve evidence that school district leaders spend money wisely. Communicating every dollar is allocated into learning inspires trust among community members. Hopefully, this confidence translates into increased engagement and voting on district issues.
Most people don’t understand the complexities of district budgeting; however, they are likely familiar with the concept of return on investment. Academic-Return on Investment, or A-ROI, builds on that familiar model.
A-ROI is a great way to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of educational expenditures. You can read about A-ROI in-depth in the publication, Spending Money Wisely. It shows the formula for A-ROI as:
(Learning increase) x (# of students helped)
Essential considerations for A-ROI require answering questions such as:
- What programs and strategies are successful, and how can we expand those successes to more students?
- What programs and strategies are failing to show the desired results? Are there any reasons not to eliminate associated expenses?
- What are the most cost-effective ways to help struggling students?
- Where can we reduce costs without negatively impacting students?
Answering these questions and acting on the information provides evidence of responsible budgeting.
How EdTech Improves Student Learning
On a per-student cost basis, EdTech is often an excellent investment. Some software programs are designed for the student to interact with directly. These programs often provide immediate growth-producing feedback and engage students with a game-like model. Some EdTech programs aim to help educators boost efficiency. The EdTech software with the highest A-ROI helps students learn and streamlines the workload.
Helping teachers work efficiently increases student learning because they can devote more energy to differentiation and instruction. Our eight pillars of success will help you explore potential areas for improving instruction and efficiency. EdTech platforms offered by Harris Education Solutions help teachers in the following ways:
- Seeing which students need remediation and acceleration and in what areas
- Automatically grading assignments and tests
- Making it easy to create assignments and tests that align with standards and state assessments
- Collaborating with colleagues
- Communicating with students and their families
- Inputting and finding student information
- Creating various versions of any assignment to allow for accommodations and differentiation
- Sending work to absent students
- Providing engaging practice for some students while the teacher works with other students
A Sample Scenario of Using A-ROI for Evaluating Software
Let’s imagine that your district is piloting two software programs, and you want to evaluate them for A-ROI. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say that you test both programs with ten math teachers with an average of 75 students each. Software program X helps math teachers save ten hours per year. These extra planning hours raise math scores by 5%. Software X costs $300 per license.
Software program Y helps math teachers save 10 hours, provides data to drive instruction, and gives students helpful practice. Students’ math scores go up 10%. Software Y costs $350 per license.
Despite costing more per license, Software Y has a significantly better A-ROI.
Valuing Educator Time as a Strong A-ROI
In addition to more time for planning and collaborating, another benefit of investing in work efficiency is that it enhances morale. Menial tasks make teachers feel that the districts do not appreciate their expertise. Feeling undervalued often contributes to teacher attrition. Since hiring and training new teachers costs considerably more than retaining highly qualified teachers, it behooves district leaders to provide them with time-saving tools.
Using EdTech to Assess A-ROI
Not only can you use A-ROI to assess your EdTech, but you can also use EdTech to evaluate the A-ROI of other programs. The A-ROI formula appears deceptively simple. The challenge lies in collecting information to put into the formula. Many administrators explain that software platforms’ ability to help assess A-ROI is where the platforms shine.
EdTech software such as Castle Learning, eDoctrina, edInsight, and eWalk help measure learning. They also make it easy to aggregate and disaggregate data, analyze the information, and share it with others. The platforms allow administrators to see the effect size of various programs by segmenting student populations. These robust capabilities make answering questions about A-ROI possible.
You might want to pilot two different strategies before deciding on one and expanding it. For example, you might try reducing class sizes for half the fifth graders in the district and free after-school tutoring for the other half. Using the data software programs, you can look at the fifth-grade groups to see how many students benefitted, to what degree, and for what price. You will then have meaningful information to feel confident in making the best decision about expansion.
While A-ROI provides important numerical information, educators’ experiences about EdTech solutions provide valuable insight too. Ask teachers and principals for details about how different programs changed their workday and advanced student learning.
EdTech Solutions as a Tool to Help People
Teachers inspire, encourage, and educate our future leaders. District leaders provide the tools for teachers to thrive. At Harris Education Solutions, we develop EdTech to help educators support student success. Take our Solutions Tool survey to discover the platform that best meets your A-ROI goals.