Forty-five states, including the District of Columbia, have signed onto the Common Core Standards Initiative during this school year or the next. This federally backed standards initiative seeks to impose a national standard for achievement among K-12 students. Yet many states are already reconsidering their participation, in large part due to the cost.
Up front, states will spend about $10 billion, and then $800 million per year for the first seven years this program is implemented. Much of the cost is on new, Common Core-aligned textbooks and curriculum, but added expenses include teacher training, technology upgrades, testing and assessment.
According to a 2012 study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute called, “Putting a Price Tag on the Common Core: How Much Will Smart Implementation Cost?”, costs for Common Core implementation will vary by state. The main reason being the level of implementation each state carries out. The study described three levels, a “Bare Bones” rollout plan, a “Business as Usual” traditional plan (the priciest) and a hybrid, or “Balanced Implementation,” combining the most and least expensive elements.
Many states are finding that the costs are too high. Under the Common Core Initiative, testing is done on computers and in Maryland alone, they will need about $100 million just to upgrade. Meanwhile, California expects to spend about $35 million per year just for testing.
The study by Accountability Works, the Maryland-based nonprofit education advocacy group, estimated that schools nationwide will need $6.87 billion for technology, $5.26 billion for professional development, $2.47 billion for textbooks and $1.24 billion for assessment testing over the first seven years that Common Core is in effect.
Yet Common COre advocates point out that whether it be the Common Core or another program, costs pertaining to textbooks, study materials and technology would still have to be funded.
Despite the mounting costs, none of the 45 states has yet to back out of the program. Yet in many state legislatures, measures are being introduced that may offer other options. Last December, Kansas opted out of using assessments and commissioned tests from the University of Kansas instead. Last January, Alaska decided to follow the same route.