The testing is being developed by two consortia that have divided up the states; tests will be conducted nationwide by computer. Linda Darling-Hammond — close colleague of Bill Ayers — heads up the testing content specifications for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which received $176 million of the total $360 million for test development (the remainder went to PARCC, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).
As I note in my report, critics predict the eventual elimination of private schools and home schools, as mandatory national tests obviate their current standards and curricula. Education Week, the Gates Foundation-funded Common Core promotional organ, recently noted – brightly — that Catholic and other private schools are already voluntarily adopting Common Core standards because of “practical considerations,” like the new college-entrance exams that will follow Common Core.
The same journal then asked readers: “Are You Tech Ready for the Common Core?” The article featured a drawing of a man at the edge of a diving board over a huge wave. The editors, I do not think, want taxpayers to really know the financial tsunami that is coming with the mandate for national testing.
While many of the “conservative” think-tanks and politicians have received Gates Foundation money (the biggest funder of Common Core), a few like the Pioneer Institute and the Heritage Foundation have raised alarms. Among these are costs down the road as the federal government is empowered to dictate education policy — and its attendant compliance costs — to the states.
The Pioneer Institute estimates that costs for technology/infrastructure alone will be $6.9 billion over seven years. One of the Common Core committee members who refused to sign off on the math standards, Ze’ev Wurman, predicted that South Carolina’s testing costs per student would rise to $100 as compared to today’s $12. The state of Georgia currently spends $5 per student on testing, but costs are expected to quadruple at a minimum. Tellingly, the money has not been “found yet,” according to Melissa Fincher, associate state superintendant for assessment and accountability.
The Education Week article linked the recently released “technology guidelines” for Apple, Google, and Microsoft Windows, and quoted Raj Manhas, superintendent of the 14,000-student North Thurston schools in Washington state, where districts must turn to the voters for approval on tax levies for technology purchases. Voters twice rejected technology levies for his district, but Manhas used money from a general fund levy to buy new needed devices for Common Core.
Manhas, though, is concerned about the “technology gap” between “districts that serve wealthier communities and districts with lower-income families.”
No doubt that will be a concern as districts scramble to keep up with the mandates coming from Washington. Such technology “gaps” (and “curriculum gaps,” etc.) will then need to be addressed by the federal government, either with mandates about redistributing state tax funds or by increasing federal funding through the Department of Education. New York City’s schools deputy chancellor has already indicated a need for additional funding to implement the program.