What is Academic ROI?

This is a measure of the amount of money made (Return) for a given amount of money invested (Investment). 

Academic ROI is a translation of this concept into the education world as a way to measure the amount of academic outcome achieved for a given amount of investment made. 

The Academic Return on Investment (Academic ROI) can be measured as the amount of learning or other educational outcome achieved per dollar spent on a school product or service; in the true vernacular, "Bang for the Buck."

For example, let's assume that a school is considering purchase of a particular supplemental product and we want to compute the Academic ROI.  Assuming that a sound research study was available that listed the amount of gains achieved on the state test we can compare the cost per student to the gains achieved to determine the ROI. If the study reported that students using the product in a one year study gained 10 points and the cost per student of this product is $20, we can calculate the Academic ROI as 10/20, or .5.  This means that for each dollar spent, we can expect to see, on average a 1/2 point  increase in student scores.

If we use a an indicator of outcomes that is consistent across studies, such as the field-standard Effect Size, we can use this method to compare several competitive products.  The Academic ROI for each can be determined and we can consider this information along with other factors to make more informed purchasing decisions.   

Academic ROI is likely to take on a growing role in school decision making as limited resources continue to be a problem and as school administrators are faced with an ever increasing set of purchasing options from which to choose. Educational publishers, technology providers and service providers would be wise to provide sound effectiveness research to support buying decisions.