Sarah Darer Littman, a journalist in Connecticut, read that Maryland will spend $100 million for Common Core testing.
She asked the State Education Department to fill in the blanks about costs and about what district will receive, and she was surprised by what she learned:
When I looked at the dollar grant per student on a district by district basis, some anomalies jumped out.
For example, the Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication charter in New London received $474 per pupil, whereas the New London School District received a mere $44 per pupil. I struggle to understand how this makes sense when New London is allegedly an Alliance District.
Similarly, the Park City Prep charter school in Bridgeport received $384 per pupil whereas Bridgeport District Schools received only $45 per pupil.
The Jumoke Academy Charter Schools network, which are operated by an organization called the Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), received a $260 per pupil grant whereas the districts in which its charters operate, Hartford and Bridgeport, received $30 and $45 respectively.
The Achievement First Charter Schools network in Connecticut received $82 per pupil compared to Hartford’s $30 and Bridgeport’s $45. New Haven, the other city in which Achievement First operates charter schools, did better at $130 per pupil.
Why did New Haven ($130 per pupil) receive almost three times the grant of Bridgeport ($45 per pupil) and more than four times that of Hartford ($30 per pupil)? All three are in District Reference Group I, representing the districts with the highest need in the state. Their Adjusted Equalized Net Grand List per Capita (AENGLC) Rank/Weighted ANGLC Ranks are 167, 166 and 169 respectively. Based on the Education Cost Sharing Town Wealth and Rank, New Haven ranks 165, Bridgeport ranks 164 and Hartford 169.
Donnelly explained that “project proposals were developed at the local level. Project proposals reflect their individual needs and local readiness as determined by the district or school. Every grant request submitted by an Local Education Authority (LEA) was honored in accordance with their respective town wealth measure.” What’s important to note here is that, as defined by federal law, school districts are an LEA, but public charter schools and interdistrict magnet schools are considered LEA’s unto themselves.
I’m still struggling to understand why a charter school in New London requires 10 times the grant on the basis of the number of students served than the district schools there. One wonders what guidance was received from the Education Department regarding these grants.
It turns out that the Education Department has not produced, and is not in the process of producing, a report on the full costs of implementing the Common Core in the state. According to the department, on top of the previously announced technology grant for which we are borrowing the money, “the state is investing approximately $8 million this year and $6 million next year to support implementation efforts.” I’m not sure if this includes the $1 million CCSS marketing campaign announced by State Education Commission Stefan Pryor last December, or if that’s a separate line item.
I’m also still struggling to understand why we’re using school construction bonds to finance the purchase of iPads and computers. That controversial practice hasn’t worked so well in Los Angeles.
The bottom line in Connecticut is that no one has figured out–or no one is revealing–what it will cost to install the technology and bandwidth and IT specialists for the Common Core testing.
It would be nice to know.