“Follow the money” may suggest one reason why some organizations promote the controversial Common Core State Standards (CCSS)—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has poured thousands of dollars into pro-Common Core grantees, including more than $100,000 to the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA)—but money may also be a reason for schools to stay away from the Common Core.
In the latest of a series of papers from The Cardinal Newman Society on the Common Core, education professor Denise Donohue of Ave Maria University investigates the cost of technological requirements for testing under Common Core.
She finds that “one quickly sees that the expense associated with implementation of the new evaluation instruments is in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars.” She also points to other tests that were normalized prior to the institution of the CCSS, can better assess the progress of students, and can do so at a much lower cost.
Donohue dissects the cost of the most popular of the assessments produced by The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC) and th eSmarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. These tests require computer memory capacity and screen display size in excess of that found in the most popular school computers. “These requirements,” said Donohue, “eliminate popular Netbooks and iPad minis or any of the new versions that have display sizes smaller than the required 9.5 inches.”
The actual cost of the assessments runs between $22.50 and $29.00 per test. With five assessments required each year for the English and Language Arts, the costs quickly mount.
As for alternatives, Donohue suggests the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, which was normalized before most schools fully implemented CCSS and “will probably be available for 10 years or longer, at which time a newer edition will be released along with a new set of norms.”
She also notes that there is a cost associated with implementing the technology upgrades and the training of the educators and students in the specific tests.
It seems that for parochial, private, and public schools that are committed to any of the testing consortia, little can be done to escape the costs and time necessary for technology upgrades and teacher and student training. For schools that are considering the CCSS assessment options and are in states governed by one of the consortia, considerations including computer upgrades, additional per-pupil testing costs, and possible additional testing time need to be budgeted and allotted.
Donohue’s report is the seventh in a series of papers which are part of the Newman Society’s Catholic Is Our Core project, helping keep key stakeholders in Catholic education – Catholic families, pastors, teachers, principals, superintendents and bishops – informed about the Common Core and its potential impact on Catholic education.
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