July 24 2013
Vicki E. Alger
Talk about buyer’s remorse. The Obama Administration has been pushing national Common Core testing standards on states in exchange for waivers from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) accountability requirements. As part of the deal, states had to pick one of two federally subsidized national testing consortia to develop and administer the tests.
One consortium, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) released its cost figures on Monday. In response Georgia and Oklahoma have pulled out. According to the Washington Post:
The Obama administration has invested heavily [actually taxpayers "invest;” governments tax and spend] in the idea of states agreeing to common standards and collaborating on tests. It awarded $330 million to two groups — PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium — to develop valid, reliable tests that could be administered and compared across state lines.
But on Monday, when PARCC said it would cost states $29.50 a student for both math and reading tests, Georgia had sticker shock. The state, which spends $12 a student for tests in math and reading, said it would instead write its own tests, perhaps joining with other states in a regional effort.
Elsewhere the Post’s Valerie Strauss reported that for all the hype from Education Secretary Arne Duncan about tests results being uniform and comparable nationwide, which somehow helps teachers improve classroom instruction, neither PARCC nor its competitor the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC, costing between $22 and $27 per student) achieve that goal. As Strauss summed up, “The one thing that’s certain about all of this is that testing companies are going to make a lot of money.”
As it stands, Alabama, North Dakota and Pennsylvania have left PARCC. Indiana is scaling back its participation, and many observers believe Florida may also leave. Meanwhile, Utah has pulled out of SBAC. For all this money taxpayers have to spend on the federal government’s pet education policies and testing companies, there’s no good reason to believe that student learning will improve.