NEW YORK – Education leaders seem as prone to fads as the school children they seek to teach.
About once every 20 years or so, America’s so-called education experts dream up some extravagant new way of improving the nation’s public education system.
But unlike kids’ fads, which usually cost only a few dollars, the trends pursued by K-12 leaders can cost untold millions and are capable of sending states and school districts into a financial tailspin.
That’s true of Common Core, the latest fad on the education scene.
According to a new survey by the Center for Education Policy at George Washington University, 34 of the 45 states that have adopted the new Common Core learning standards in math and English “are having difficulty finding the resources to support” the new requirements, Reuters reports.
“Finding adequate resources is the main challenge looming over states’ efforts to prepare districts, schools, principals and teachers for the Common Core,” Diane Stark Rentner, CEP’s deputy director of national programs, told Reuters.
Common Core hits schools in the wallet in several ways.
Since the main purpose of Common Core is to establish new, nationalized guidelines for what students must learn at each grade level, school districts must overhaul their curriculum and spend significant sums of money on Common Core-aligned textbooks and instructional materials.
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That’s a huge expense for districts that are just trying to avoid teacher layoffs and student program cuts.
Once a school district has all new teaching materials, leaders must help their teachers learn how to use them and how to design Common Core-related lessons. That leads to another expensive outlay for educator training.
The biggest costs associated with Common Core, however, are the new standardized tests that schools must administer to students. Unlike current assessments that mostly require students to fill in ovals on paper forms, the Common Core-aligned assessments must be taken on computers.
That requires cash-strapped school districts to purchase new computers and make various technological upgrades.
That’s not all.
Since the new Common Core tests require students to answer questions with short answers and essays, the testing companies must hire and train individuals to grade each test.
It all adds up to a hefty bill, as Arizona officials recently discovered. According to the Daily Reporter, the state’s new Common Core-ready tests will cost taxpayers $29.50 per student, compared to the $18-$20 price tag of the current tests.
Georgia officials also experienced “sticker shock” over the cost of the new tests, and have since decided to save money by designing their own Common Core compatible test, reports TheCitizen.com.
The Obama administration – which has been aggressively nudging states into adopting Common Core – understands most states can’t afford all of these costs, and is considering a new $5 annual phone tax to help them pay their Common Core testing bills, reports The Heartlander.
All of this spending will surely lead to more learning, right?
Despite all the hoopla surrounding Common Core, nobody knows if the new standards will help students learn or not – because Common Core has never been field tested anywhere in the United States.
Talk about an expensive gamble.
There’s a chance that Common Core will rescue our schools from mediocrity and recast America’s public education system as the envy of the world.
The more likely scenario is that 20 years from now, our education “experts” will have some new scheme to transform public education, and Common Core will go down in history as just another overpriced fad.