Aligning state and local educational systems to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math will cost the 45 states plus the District of Columbia that have adopted them nearly $16 billion over seven years according to a new study, National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards, published by Pioneer Institute, the American Principles Project, and the Pacific Research Institute of California. This does not include additional spending for reforms to help students meet the new standards.
The study, which only calculates expenses directly associated with the transition, finds that states are likely to incur $10.5 billion in one-time costs. These include the price of familiarizing educators with the new standards, obtaining textbooks and instructional materials aligned with the standards, and necessary technology infrastructure upgrades.
An estimated $503 million will be incurred in first-year operational costs like technology training and support and higher assessment costs for some states.
AccountabilityWorks (AW), which developed the analysis, estimates that an additional $801 million will be incurred annually in years two through seven for ongoing support of the enhanced technology infrastructure and the introduction of new assessments that are currently under development.
The study uses California, whose current academic standards are among the nation‟s best but has adopted Common Core, as an example. AccountabilityWorks estimates the Golden State will incur additional costs of over $1 billion for technology and support, $606 million for professional development and $374 million for textbooks and materials over seven years. The additional costs would exacerbate California‟s recent budget woes, which have been even worse than what most other states have endured.
The study includes several recommendations. The first is that the 45 states and the District of Columbia that have adopted Common Core and joined one of the two federally-sponsored testing consortia should engage in a public discussion about the costs and benefits of adoption and whether it represents the best investment of scarce education resources.
AccountabilityWorks also recommends that states conduct a technology feasibility assessment to determine their readiness to implement the standards, ensure that thorough professional development is available to all teachers so students have an adequate opportunity to learn the material they will be tested on, identify the resources needed to fully align instructional resources and materials with Common Core, and analyze the future annual costs associated with national standards-based assessments that are currently under development.
Pioneer Institute led a campaign in 2010 to oppose the adoption of national standards, producing a four-part series reviewing evolving drafts. The reports compared them with existing Massachusetts and California standards, and found that the federal versions contained weaker content in both ELA and math. Here's one:
• Why Race to the Middle: First-Class State Standards Are Better than Third Class National Standards