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Why are States Backing out of Common Core State Standards?

Originally published at the Virginia Free Citizen. Reprinted by permission

Article 4 in a series on Common Core Standards

Common-Core-State-StandardsLet’s use New York as an example, since it was one of the first states to implement Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Common Core information and methods have been taught there for two years. So, how is it working there?

Actually, parents and teachers are revolting against it. Only 31% of the students passed the tests—just so you know 31% is not a mistype. In Long Island, alone, 18,000 people signed a petition against it.

As a whole, New York students have, in the past, performed above the national average. Now, legislation has been introduced to place a three-year moratorium on Common Core. New York Assemblyman, Al Graf, a member of the Assembly Education Committee, is even calling Common Core “state-sponsored child abuse,” and states that Common Core has “terrible consequences for teachers, students, schools and parents.” Also, the board of the New York teachers union voted unanimously against the implemented Standards that have failed.

Reports abound, nationally, of student and teacher stress, of teachers resigning from their profession, and of students wanting to drop out of school, because of Common Core.

Of course, Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, seems to have an idea about what’s wrong with a portion of the opposition to Common Core. When speaking to a group of state school superintendents at Richmond, last November, he complained of “ . . . white suburban moms who . . . all of a sudden . . .their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”

Key words here are “all of a sudden.” A drop in intelligence doesn’t happen “all of a sudden” without a good reason, like perhaps a brain injury or a stroke. . . . . or just maybe throwing our children into an experimental, mediocre, set of standards that have not been tested. Fuzzy, confusing math methods and the reading of instruction manuals, and EPA announcements is hardly the way to an interesting, academic education. Parents should be upset when their children are being used as guinea pigs.

Common Core and the High Cost of Implementation

Another reason for states wanting to back out of Common Core is the high cost of implementing it. Since states didn’t know what was actually in the Standards when they signed onto them, how could they know what implementation would actually cost?   Of course, the cost will be different for different states, depending on population, what degree of implementation they take on, and whether the states already have adequate computer technology in place, or not.   One thing for sure, this is another mandate without sufficient funding.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), there are two categories for cost:

One-time, or upfront transition costs and investments that include new instruction materials for CCSS, professional development for teachers, new testing materials and the technological infrastructure. These costs occur over the course of the implementation period, not just for one year.

Ongoing costs and investments “folded back into pre-existing state and district annual expenditures related to state standards and assessments . . .through cross-state and district collaboration, opportunities to enjoy economies of scale may lower current ongoing costs associated with implementing stateside standards.” These may include maintenance and updating of much listed in the “one-time” category above.

Our federal government may be providing states with a total of $350 million in aid to make the transition to CCSS, but that isn’t nearly enough to cover transition costs.   According to a report by FOX News, “States will spend up to an estimated $10 billion up front, then as much as $800 million per year for the first seven years that the controversial program is up and running. Much of the cost is on new, Common Core-aligned textbooks and curriculum, but the added expenses also include teacher training, technology upgrades, testing and assessment.” Some estimated costs nationwide by the Maryland-based education advocacy group, Accountability Works are:

  • $6.87 billion for technology

  • ·$5.26 billion for professional development

  • $2.47 billion for textbooks

  • ·$1.24 billion for assessment testing over the first seven years

While Virginia opted out of adopting CCSS and its tests, “One of the board’s chief arguments against adopting national standards was fiscal, with members noting that ‘Virginia’s investment in the Standards of Learning (SOL) since 1995 far exceeds the $250 million Virginia potentially could have received by abandoning the SOL and competing in phase two of Race to the Top.’ [7]   Indeed, since 1996, Virginia taxpayers have paid more than $379 million to develop and implement the state SOL. The costs for developing the SOL include expenditures for the initial development and subsequent revisions of the curriculum frameworks and assessments, as well as, the development of new supporting materials and professional development related to using the new testing system.”

There are other reasons for states wanting to back out of Common Core. Learn about the Common Core Math Standards, coming next in Article 5.

Celeste Busby’s Series can be found here. Published with permission from the Virginia Free Citizen

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