published Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Common Core educational tests could exceed Georgia's budget

A fifth-grader at Chickamauga Elementary uses an electronic device to record her answers to math problems she worked out on a dry-erase board.
A fifth-grader at Chickamauga Elementary uses an electronic device to record her answers to math problems she worked out on a dry-erase board.
Photo by John Rawlston.

ATLANTA — National tests being created for the Common Core educational standards could cost Georgia more than its current budget of $25 million for all types of assessments.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the tests being created by a consortium of state education leaders known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers could run as high as $27.5 million for Georgia.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Nathan Deal, Stephanie Mayfield, said Deal is exploring options because of concerns about the cost of the assessments.

The partnership has set a ceiling of $18.50 per student for the English test it is developing and $18.50 for the math test it's creating. That's the first two subjects covered by Common Core. Georgia currently spends $8 to $9 per student on all assessments. It has used the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test to assess student performance in five subjects.

Based on the 746,191 students who took the England language arts CRCT this year and the 743,301 students who took the math CRCT, the PARCC assessment would cost a combined $27.5 million, the newspaper said.

The Common Core standards were developed with the support of the National Governors Association as a way to assess student achievement, and they have been adopted by most states. They also were prompted as a way to help students moving from state to state in an increasingly mobile society. Critics consider them an intrusion into local and state control of public schools.

A critic, Cherokee County school board member Kelly Marlow, said skyrocketing costs are one of the concerns.

Georgia Superintendent John Barge, who is a member of the PARCC consortium, said he was the lone dissenter this past winter when PARCC set a maximum per student cost for the test, which he viewed as unrealistic.

"I did not want to give any perception that I'm speaking for my Legislature that money is going to be available," Barge said.

Barge, like the governor, has supported Common Core.

Republican state Rep. Brooks Coleman, of Duluth, chairman of the House Education Committee, said $27.5 million would be a steep price to pay for the tests.

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