Federal leadership on education reform has yielded disappointing results throughout the last several presidential administrations. The 1994 “Goals 2000: Educate America Act” failed to achieve its objectives, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has become the subject of much criticism and its Annual Yearly Progress standard has been found unworkable, says the nonprofit AccountabilityWorks.
In response, many states came together to develop the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) — a uniform instructional system that would be adopted nationwide. The federal government involved itself by coercing adoption of the CCSSI by threatening to withhold Title I funds and making adoption a condition for receiving NCLB waivers. As a result, 45 states are now partners in CCSSI.
- Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia are the only states that have held out against federal pressure and not signed onto CCSSI.
- Because CCSSI standards will require significant upgrades in technology, test administration and instructional materials, compliance will be costly.
- The Pioneer Institute estimates that over a seven-year timespan, CCSSI compliance will require outlays of $1.2 billion for new assessments, $5.3 billion for professional development, $2.5 billion for instructional materials, and $6.9 billion for technology infrastructure and support.
- This totals to $15.8 billion, $10.5 billion of which will be upfront, one-time costs.
The CCSSI is currently relying on two parallel efforts to develop breakthrough testing measures that will measure student achievement against the new standards. However, because both efforts rely on online testing, they face significant challenges in implementing the new tests efficiently.
- Technology infrastructure, such as bandwidth, security and adequate equipment will be of constant concern for all participating schools.
- Expertise on the local level and support staff will be limited.
- Open response questions, which both efforts tout as a crucial element of their tests, have proven difficult to incorporate into online testing in past efforts.
- Due to a limited number of computer stations (barring enormous technology investment), the testing window will have to be expanded beyond the practical.
Also seen in the National Center for Policy Analysis