Glossary

**attrition**—in the context of research studies, refers to the gradual loss of study participants, some percentage of whom often drop out.

**benefit-cost analysis**—a method of economic analysis in which both costs and outcomes of an intervention are valued in monetary terms, permitting a direct comparison of the benefits produced by the intervention with its costs (also referred to as cost-benefit analysis).

**contingent valuation analysis**—a method of obtaining estimates of the worth of a social good or benefit in which people are asked how much they would pay for a particular outcome, given a particular hypothetical scenario.

**cost-effectiveness analysis**—a method of economic analysis in which outcomes of an intervention are measured in nonmonetary terms. The outcomes and costs are compared with both the outcomes (using the same outcome measures) and the costs for competing interventions, or with an established standard, to determine if the outcomes are achieved at reasonable monetary cost.

**dependent variable**—the factor(s) that change as a result of an experimental treatment or intervention, such as, for example, the academic skills of children who have participated in an early childhood education program.

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Appendix A
Glossary
attrition—in the context of research studies, refers to the gradual loss of
study participants, some percentage of whom often drop out.
benefit-cost analysis—a method of economic analysis in which both costs
and outcomes of an intervention are valued in monetary terms, permit-
ting a direct comparison of the benefits produced by the intervention with
its costs (also referred to as cost-benefit analysis).
contingent valuation analysis—a method of obtaining estimates of the
worth of a social good or benefit in which people are asked how much
they would pay for a particular outcome, given a particular hypothetical
scenario.
cost-effectiveness analysis—a method of economic analysis in which
outcomes of an intervention are measured in nonmonetary terms. The
outcomes and costs are compared with both the outcomes (using the
same outcome measures) and the costs for competing interventions, or
with an established standard, to determine if the outcomes are achieved
at reasonable monetary cost.
dependent variable—the factor(s) that change as a result of an experi-
mental treatment or intervention, such as, for example, the academic
skills of children who have participated in an early childhood education
program.

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0 BENEFIT-COST ANALYSIS FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD INTERVENTIONS
discount rate—a factor used to estimate future costs or the value of future
benefits at the current equivalent value, used with the goal of attempting
to take into account likely changes in valuation, opportunity costs, and
other factors.
economy of scale—advantages that accrue when a project is conducted
on a larger scale than initially, which result from opportunities to use
resources more efficiently and to reduce costs.
effect size—the magnitude of results (or effects on participants) of a par-
ticular treatment or intervention that is being studied.
independent variable—one of the characteristics of an experiment’s sub-
jects that are considered in the study design, such as, for example, the age
and gender of the participants in an early childhood program.
intent-to-treat—the group of study participants randomly selected to
receive the intervention being studied.
multivariate regression model—a statistical procedure for examining
experimentally the relationship among several variables. By making it
possible to distinguish the impact on outcomes of one variable from the
impacts of others, this analysis makes it possible to control for factors
that may influence the results and obscure the effects the experiment is
intended to identify.
opportunity cost—the value of alternatives not chosen, calculated as part
of an analysis of the costs of the alternative that was chosen.
plug-in—estimates for particular costs that can be used to streamline cost
analysis.
p-value—calculation of the probability that the data indicate a significant
difference.
quasi-experimental design—an experiment designed to produce evi-
dence of causality when randomized controlled trials are not possible,
using alternative statistical procedures to compensate for nonrandom
factors.
randomized controlled trial—an experiment in which the participants are
assigned by chance either to receive the intervention or treatment being
studied or not to receive it, so that the results can be compared across

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APPENDIX A
statistical identical groups. When this is done with a large enough number
of participants, any differences among them that might influence their
response to the treatment will be distributed evenly.
regression adjustment—a statistical technique for reducing bias in an
experiment that can occur when variables other then the one(s) being
studied may affect the results in nonrandom ways.
regression discontinuity design—a quasi-experimental analysis that can
be used in program evaluation when randomized assignment is not fea-
sible. It is based on the assumption that individuals who fall just above or
below a cut-off point on a particular scale are likely to be similar, so that
this group can be treated as varying randomly.
selection bias—an unrecognized difference in the characteristics of the
subjects of an experiment who do or do not receive the treatment, or who
or do not benefit from it, that will affect the results.
shadow value/shadow price—the true value or cost of the results of a
particular decision, as calculated when no market price is available; a
dollar value attached to an opportunity cost.
worst-case bounds—a statistical analysis in which the outer limit assump-
tions for an experiment—both the best possible and worst possible out-
comes in terms of the data supporting or not supporting the experimental
hypothesis-—are examined. This analysis provides a way of assessing the
significance of actual error that may occur in any experiment.