Standards, Testing & Accountability

Pricing the Common Core
Download Putting a Price Tag on the Common Core to learn more.

It's a key question, but one without a simple answer. Fordham's latest report, Putting a Price Tag on the Common Core: How Much Will Smart Implementation Cost States and Districts?, explains how costs to states could range from $3 billion to $12 billion, depending on how states approach that challenge over the next several years, and describes different models for implementation available to states. For a primer on the report's findings check out posts on Education Week and Common Core Watch, or watch Fordham's VP for Research Amber Winkler's analysis. Or simply download the report.

Most importantly, don't forget to watch the 4p.m. EDT webcast of "Pricing the Common Core: How Much Will Smart Implementation Cost States and Districts?" This panel discussion feature's the report's co-author, Patrick J. Murphy, as well as Achieve President Michael Cohen, former Florida Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith, and former Education Department official—and noted...

Today, Fordham is releasing a new report on the costs of putting the Common Core State Standards into place around the country. Putting a Price Tag on the Common Core: How Much Will Smart Implementation Cost? estimates the implementation cost for each of the forty-five states (and the District of Columbia) that have adopted the Common Core State Standards and shows that costs naturally depend on how states approach implementation. Authors Patrick J. Murphy of the University of San Francisco and Elliot Regenstein of EducationCounsel LLC illustrate this with three models:

Pricing the Common Core
Download Putting a Price Tag on the Common Core to learn more.
  • Business as Usual. This “traditional” (and priciest) approach to standards-implementation involves buying hard-copy textbooks, administering annual student assessments on paper, and delivering in-person professional development to all teachers.
  • Bare Bones. This lowest-cost alternative employs open-source instructional materials, annual computer-administered assessments, and online professional development via webinars and modules.
  • Balanced Implementation. This is a blend of approaches, some of them
  • ...

Nearly two years ago, as states weighed the decision of whether to adopt the Common Core ELA and math standards, they were told that they were allowed—encouraged, even—“to add an additional 15 percent on top of the core.”

The reality is that the CCSS were never meant to represent the totality of what states expected students to know and be able to do, particularly in ELA, where the introduction specifically warns:

The CCSS were never meant to represent the totality of what states expected students to know and be able to do,
Furthermore, while the Standards make references to some particular forms of content, including mythology, foundational U.S. documents, and Shakespeare, they do not—indeed, cannot—enumerate all or even most of the content that students should learn.

Yet, despite the freedom that states have to take ownership over the standards and add the critical content teachers and leaders need to guide curriculum and instruction, only eleven states added even a single new word to the core. And in many cases, what was added was barely more than window dressing. Some of the eleven states focused on changing the format, with minimal changes to the content. Others added minor statements, phrases...

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The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has long advocated for high quality academic content standards nationally – and in our home state of Ohio. In fact, the first report ever issued by Fordham, in 1997, was State English Standards and rated English language arts standards across 28 states, including Ohio. Just as we’ve long called for high quality academic standards, the Buckeye State was an early leader in embracing standards-based education.

So it is not surprising that Ohio committed itself in 2010 to adopting more rigorous academic content standards: Ohio is one of 45 states and the District of Columbia that has committed to implementing the Common Core standards in math and English language arts by the start of the 2014-15 school year. In 2011, Ohio joined 23 other states in adopting the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment consortium. These are significant decisions for the Buckeye State, its schools, and its children because it has committed to elevating big time the expectations and performance of its children in coming years.

Ohio has made an audacious commitment to delivering significantly higher levels of academic performance for all its children. This is...

It is the aim of the Common Core (see above) that all students will be college- or career-ready by the time they graduate from high school. One organization working to make this goal a reality in Fordham’s hometown of Dayton is Learn to Earn Dayton. Last week the Fordham Institute teamed up with Learn to Earn Dayton to host a community conversation, “What does the Common Core Mean for Dayton and its Human Capital Development Strategies?”

The event brought together leaders from the business and education community to discuss the future of Dayton and the potential impact the Common Core can have on the city. The event featured Stan Heffner, state superintendent of public instruction; Mike Cohen, president of Achieve; Ellen Belcher, author of our recent report on Common Core implementation; and David Ponitz, president emeritus of Sinclair Community College and chairman of the board of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

   

Stan Heffner, state superintendent of public instruction and Mike Cohen, president of Achieve

Superintendent Heffner explained that the Common Core standards will help Ohio move from the minimum toward a path that allows kids...

Good news and bad news for the Buckeye State. The bad news first: in the recently-released “The Nation’s Report Card” for eighth grade science scores, Ohio fell eight spots in the state rankings. The good news: despite the drop, Ohio continued to outperform the national average in science scores.

Issued by the U.S. Department of Education, the Report Card publishes National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results and provides inter-state and year-to-year comparisons of student performance. Nationally, the results were encouraging as scores trended upwards and achievement gaps narrowed. (My colleague Daniela Fairchild reviews the national data here.)

Ohio’s 2011 average science test score remained flat compared to 2009, causing the Buckeye State to fall behind states whose test scores improved. However, Ohio still bests the national test average by seven points, and its average test scores also remain near the top among the states—fifteenth out of fifty. Additionally, Ohio continues to outperform the national percentage of students scoring “above proficient” and “above basic.”

These science scores are critical, for they predict our nation’s ability to meet the demands of the future marketplace. Ohio’s future, therefore, rests on how well it equips today’s kids with...

As Kathleen noted in a blog post on Saturday:

Louisiana State Capitol
Download "Future shock: Early Common Core implementation lessons from Ohio."
There isn’t a Common Core supporter in the nation who hasn’t qualified her enthusiasm for what the standards can do with “if they are implemented properly.” On the other hand, I’m not sure there’s a Common Core opponent who isn’t standing in the wings, waiting for implementation to fail.

She went on to explain why Common Core implementers must be willing to take risks, fail, and, most importantly, learn from their mistakes if the project is to succeed. Now, Fordham’s Ohio team has released a useful tool for Common Core advocates looking to avoid miscues by learning from the challenges others have already faced in the implementation process. In a new report, “Future shock: Early Common Core implementation lessons from Ohio,” veteran journalist Ellen Belcher provides the perspectives of educators working at schools around the Buckeye State that are leading the way at putting the rigorous new standards...

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

—Colin Powell

There isn’t a Common Core supporter in the nation who hasn’t qualified her enthusiasm for what the standards can do with “if they are implemented properly.” On the other hand, I’m not sure there’s a Common Core opponent who isn’t standing in the wings, waiting for implementation to fail.

It’s only by allowing the chance for failure that standards can have any real meaning.

This is often the point in a new initiative when supporters feel most vulnerable and start scrambling to figure out how to avoid high profile failures. But, if we’ve going to succeed in this venture, we shouldn’t be trying to avoid failure, we should be looking to shine a spotlight on it and embrace it as a key element of change. It’s only by allowing the chance for failure that standards can have any real meaning.

This is something that KIPP understands intimately. KIPP has become perhaps the most well-known charter model not just because it was the first CMO to achieve national scale, but also because it’s been consistently the most...

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