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common core cost
What’s the total cost?

Read the headline.  That’s a great question and one that hasn’t been completely answered in Missouri.  Initially Commissioner Nicastro stated it wouldn’t cost Missouri any additional money but recently she told the Legislature there would be a charge that she must not have realized two years ago or slipped her mind.  From kbia.org and Legislators, DESE consider costs of common core standards testing:

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro told committee members Tuesday that implementing the Common Core in Missouri has not cost the state any additional money, but that measuring student performance under the new standards will.  (MEW bolded)

“We had to go out last spring for bids for a new testing vendor,” Nicastro said.  “The result of that bid came in significantly higher than what we’d been spending previously.”

Nicastro said back in September the department requested $30 million in the fiscal year 2015 budget to cover the cost of student assessments, as compared to $12 million in years past. She suggested, though, that the final cost is still an estimate.

“It would probably be more like $26 million roughly,” Nicastro said.  “It’s doubled…it’s more than doubled.”

What the Commissioner doesn’t tell the legislators is the reason for the new assessments measuring student performance is aligned to the Common Core Standards Initiative mandate.  Note to legislators: isn’t this cost directly tied to Common Core implementation?  Nicastro is on that slippery slope.  She admitted in a previous hearing that broadband cost is in the implementation but that would not be a cost to the state, it’s an unknown cost to the districts.  That “unknown” cost is important to note.  This “unknown cost” also permeates the cost for an initiative to base teacher evaluations on unvalidated CCSS assessments.  There is a common thread here and it appears to be fiscally frightening for taxpayers and school districts.  From Missouri Education Today: Common Core, Teacher Evaluations, The “Coalition of the Willing” and the Nuclear Option:

After the initiative was filed March 15, the auditor’s office made a routine request for a cost estimate from the education department. Agency records show that a staff member originally proposed saying there was the “potential for significant unknown costs” to local school districts, but Nicastro changed that to say “cost unknown.”
By contrast, the MNEA suggested to the auditor’s office that the initiative could cost $5.5 billion to implement and an additional $93 million annually to develop and administer standardized tests for every subject at every grade level for use in staff evaluations.

Do you get the sneaking suspicion taxpayers are on the hook for a lot more money than the $30 million Nicastro states is necessary for CCSS implementation of tests she won’t even call CCSS mandated?

Duane Lester at the Missouri Torch examined the cost of Washington state CCSS implementation compared to Missouri’s stated cost and wondered about the disparity of the two states which have similarities.  He wonders about Nixon’s budget request for education that apparently won’t cover CCSS implementation costs.  From Nixon Pledges $278 Million More for Missouri Education, But That Might Not Even Cover the Cost of Implementing Common Core:

And that’s just doing the student assessments.  There are many more costs:

Education Week’s Peter DeWitt praised the new standards implementation in a blog posting on November 19, but then admitted that the Common Core “will be uncommonly expensive for school districts:”

Every new initiative, no matter how big or small, comes with unforeseen costs . . . For example, will school districts need to adopt new textbooks that are aligned to the Common Core? Does that mean that the thousands of dollars school districts have spent on textbooks in the last few years are no longer relevant to what teachers are teaching? . . . the Common Core is radically different enough that schools will be forced to buy new textbooks, which should be concerning to educators. Was this a way for textbook publishers to get more money from schools?

DeWitt went on to point out several expensive results of the Common Core that have not often been considered:

Substitute Teachers — Schools have to send teachers to be a part of the curriculum mapping process for Common Core Standards. These trainings will be over multiple days which will take teachers out of the classroom . . . There is a cost to have a substitute teacher in the classroom for multiple days.

New Textbooks — Textbooks are outrageously expensive . . . even if we do find internet options, the publishers who created those options are certainly not offering them for free.

The Cost of Time — Teachers spend a great deal of time trying to educate themselves on the changes from their old standards to those of the Common Core . . . The cost of time is a big reality for schools.

Training Teachers — Bringing in outside experts or consultants is very expensive. In order to properly train teachers, school districts must offer professional development in order to ensure that educators can master the Common Core Standards. These trainings are not a one-shot deal and will cost school districts money . . .

. . . Schools will have students who see more substitute teachers in their classrooms and districts will have less money for other supplies . . . Our only hope is that school districts are given a proper opportunity to prepare for these new standards or the whole situation will be just another mandate that school districts cannot afford.

In Washington State, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction estimated the new Common Core standards would cost the state “more than $300 million.”  The price of new textbooks alone is expected to be more than $122 million.

Washington state has 1,043,788 students.

Missouri has 918,710.

Washington has 295 school districts.

Missouri has 523.

Washington has 2354 public schools.

Missouri has 2451.

Washington spends $9,481 per student.

Missouri spends $9,721.

The two states are similar in many ways, so it’s possible Missouri’s costs could be very similar to Washington.  Meaning the $278 million increase might not be enough to cover the cost of implementing a program the legislature never reviewed and was agreed upon by Gov. Jay Nixon before the standards were even written.

Wouldn’t you say that there is “significant unknown potential cost” in Common Core implementation?  Why can Washington state give a detailed cost to to implementation cost but Missouri can’t….or won’t?

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