Common Core Tests to Cost Millions More than Expected in Wisconsin

AP/Coeur d'Alene Press, Shawn Gust
AP/Coeur d'Alene Press, Shawn Gust

Testing Wisconsin students with the new assessments aligned with the Common Core standards is expected to cost at least $7.2 million over the original estimate, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

The Wisconsin State Journal reports DPI’s 2015-2017 budget calls for $17.9 million for the next academic year and $18.5 million for the 2016-2017 school year, for the administration of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) assessment. The amount requested is approximately $7.2 million more than what is appropriated already.

DPI’s budget indicates that the cost of administering the SBAC exam has increased from $26 to $33.64 per student. The costs will cover 62,500 students in grades three, four, and eight, including students attending private schools that have agreed to accept school choice vouchers and, consequently, are now required to submit to the state assessments.

“What you’re dealing with is actual numbers versus estimates,” said Luci Willits, deputy director of SBAC, one of the two federally funded test consortia that are developing assessments aligned with the Common Core standards.

Wisconsin pays $1.9 million per year to belong to SBAC.

When SBAC was launched, nearly 30 states were on board to use the interstate assessments, but that number has dropped to 21 as more Americans have learned about the Common Core standards, the aligned assessments, and the student data collection.

Wisconsin education officials believe one of the reasons the costs of the test are increasing is because more states are abandoning the consortium. Willits, however, said decreasing member states is not a factor.

“When the consortium started four years ago, there would be certain estimates about what it would cost between the consortium and vendors in terms of delivery and that’s what I think Wisconsin is dealing with — now that they have actual numbers,” she said.

The Journal report indicates that the final cost for the tests could increase or decrease since the budget request is based on an “intent agreement” between DPI and Educational Testing Service (ETS), the test’s vendor. Gov. Scott Walker (R) is reportedly reviewing the budget request.

Similar to states that have “rebranded” the Common Core standards and tests, Wisconsin renamed the Smarter Balanced test “The Badger Exam.”

The state legislature is currently considering a measure that allows school districts to assess their students with tests other than those aligned with the Common Core standards.

Breitbart News reported last July that Walker was urging state lawmakers to pass a bill that would repeal the Common Core standards. According to the Journal, however, while the Governor “has repeatedly expressed a distaste for the Common Core standards,” he has pulled back from calling for a repeal.


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