Standardized Testing and the Common Core Standards: You Get What You Pay For?
Assessment costs have always been a political football given the controversy surrounding standardized testing, and that has only intensified with the debate over Common Core. Concerns about the cost of the consortia’s tests likely stem in part from a sense of uncertainty because the consortia have announced estimates, but not firm prices. States may be concerned that the price will go up, especially if states leave the consortia, and that they will be left without an affordable alternative. Opponents of the Common Core may be hoping that the withdrawal of a few states from the common assessments will lead to the unraveling of the consortia. This report tackles this question through an empirical analysis of the consortia’s cost estimates. By dividing per-student costs into the component that is the same regardless of the number of students (e.g., developing test questions) and the part that depends on the number of students (e.g., scoring essays), this report estimates how prices will change if the consortia continue to lose members. This analysis shows that the departure of a few states will have a minimal impact on cost. For example, the possible departure of Florida, PARCC’s second largest member, only means a per-student price increase of about 60 cents for the remaining states.