Mike Fair, a Republican legislator in South Carolina, worries about the cost and complexity of the new standards and tests.
When you read about the heavy spending that lies ahead, in a time when school budgets are being slashed and teachers laid off, you can see why the Common Core national standards/national tests movement is warmly endorsed by the technology industry.
This is an excerpt:
School districts will need enough computers to allow almost every student to take multiple annual exams. These computers must be suitable for the “innovative” test items and must be maintained and upgraded. Add to this the cost of increased IT staffing, and you begin to realize the problems of buying a Porsche test on a Ford budget.
A recent study projects that states will collectively spend $2.8 billion and $6.9 billion over seven years on technology alone for Common Core. And the authors cautioned that they were accepting the consortiums’ cost estimates at face value; analyst Ze’ev Wurman has predicted that South Carolina’s annual testing costs may skyrocket to $100 per student, compared with $12 per student today.
School districts that can’t afford substantial new technology will have to rotate students through the computer labs; Smarter Balanced recommends a 12-week testing window. But that creates significant security problems — how to keep the earlier-tested students from talking to the later-tested ones? — as well as inequity in results. The students tested late in the window will have almost three more months of instruction than those first out of the gate. Might this give an unfair advantage? And might teachers, whose evaluations depend on these test scores, resent having their students put at the front of the testing window?
These problems will have to be worked out, assuming the whole concept of nationalized standards, tests and curricula doesn’t collapse under its own weight. When that collapse or implosion happens, I hope it is before too much damage is done to our budgets, our schools and our children.