What Will Common Core Standards Cost States?

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State implementation of the Common Core State Standards will require the development of new curriculum and the adoption of new technologies to prepare for new computer-based assessments in the 2014-2015 school year. For the 45 states that have adopted the standards, those efforts aren’t going to be cost-free. According to a new analysis from the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, states will spend between $3.1 billion and $12.1 billion combined putting Common Core into practice.

The final cost will depend on the style of implementation that states choose to pursue. The Fordham Institute laid out three approaches:

  • “Business as usual,” which includes buying hard-copy textbooks and utilizes in-person professional development to prepare teachers for the new standards. Estimated costs: $12.1 billion.
  • “Bare bones,” which relies on digital open-sourced instruction materials and online webinars for teacher development. Estimated costs: $3.1 billion.
  • “Balanced implementation,” which combines elements of both of the above. Estimated costs: $5.1 billion.

Individual state costs would vary widely, according to the analysis: California’s potential spending could be $1.6 billion or $380 million, depending on the state’s chosen approach, while Vermont’s price range is about $24 million.

The report’s authors also note that states could repurpose much of their current spending on various items, including classroom materials and professional development, for Common Core implementation. For instance, current state spending could cover more than half ($3.8 billion) of the $5.1 billion that states would spend with the “balanced implementation” approach, under the Fordham model.

The institute’s analysis is based on estimated costs for instructional materials, student assessments and teacher professional development. Other potential costs, such as remedial classes needed to prepare students to meet Common Core’s demands or aligning teacher preparation programs with Common Core, were not included.

The estimates by the Fordham Institute, a general supporter of Common Core, come in below those in a February study by the Pioneer Institute, a public policy research group that has expressed opposition to the nationalized standards. Pioneer placed the combined costs of Common Core implementation at $15.8 billion. The Fordham report appears to be a direct counterpoint to that figure, as its authors noted some of their objections to the Pioneer Institute’s methodology in their analysis.

Also seen in Governing.