ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The education overhaul known as Common Core is creating so many financial and logistical problems for schools that some observers are comparing it to the cumbersome and costly new health care law.
According to a new report from the Maryland State Department of Education, cash-strapped schools in that state will have to spend about $100 million to get ready for Common Core’s computer-based standardized assessments – known as the PARCC tests – which most students will begin taking in the spring of 2015.
To prepare for the online PARCC tests, many school districts are buying new laptop computers or tablets, increasing their Internet bandwidth, making software upgrades to existing computers and hiring new support staff to help schools navigate the new process, reports the Baltimore Sun.
Leaders in some already-crowded schools are not only struggling to find storage areas for the large influx of new computers, but they’re warning that it may be logistically impossible to get every student on a computer for the PARCC test without causing huge disruptions to the school’s learning schedule.
One Baltimore school informational technology official told the Sun that a 2,000-student high school plans to cycle students through the school’s limited computer lab space to administer the PARCC tests. The result will be that regular instruction “will have to cease for weeks at a time.”
The Sun reports the new PARCC tests “will be given over nine days, compared to four for the (state’s current standardized tests), and students will be tested for nearly twice as many hours.”
Maryland schools will reportedly be able to administer paper-and-pencil versions of the new tests until the online version becomes mandatory during the 2017-18 school year.
State Sen. Paul Pinsky, who sits on the Senate’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, said he’s concerned about the costs associated with the PARCC tests and hinted that lawmakers may consider delaying the implementation process.
“I just want to be sure that we’re prepared,” Pinsky told the Sun. “If not, we might need to look at slowing down. You don’t jam this down a local jurisdiction’s throat when they’re not ready for it.”
We’d add that it’s downright foolish for Common Core-affiliated states to be spending K-12 money they can’t spare to implement a set of nationalized math and English standards that virtually nobody understands.
Even Common Core supporters concede the new standards have never been field-tested anywhere in the United States, meaning that nobody knows the kinds of results this new educational fad will produce.
In a few years, when many public schools are crying poverty and the Common Core has failed to make more students “college- and career-ready,” we just hope taxpayers will remember the individuals who foisted this pricey, untested scheme on them – and hold them accountable.