Most of the time when I write about the “cost” of standardized testing, I’m thinking of the high price paid in terms of time and focus. All the human and instructional resources that are diverted to prepare for and support the assessment infrastructure in schools, plus the loss of opportunities for students to learn anything outside of a narrow group of testable topics.
However, there’s also the obscene amounts of money involved.
In just one state, Florida,
Agency staff said state-required tests cost $90 million each year. That includes the Florida Standards Assessments, college-readiness exams and others, but not required end-of-course exams chosen by each school district.
I’m betting that figure is just state expenses and doesn’t include additional costs incurred by local districts. It would also be interesting to know how much of that turns into profits for Pearson and other companies that administer and grade the various exams, plus sell a variety of test prep materials to schools.
Anyway, extend that to the rest of the country and you have a large chunk of change not being spent on actual student learning. And there’s more to come as the federal DOE forces new rules on teacher training programs.
The Education Department estimated that it would cost colleges and states about $42 million over 10 years to comply with the new data reporting requirements.
California education officials wrote in a separate letter that the proposed regulations would cost their state alone approximately $485 million each year. The California State University system said it would cost that institution approximately $4.7 million over 10 years to comply with the proposed rules.
While the reality, of course, probably lies somewhere in the middle, it’s still money that’s not being spent on instruction, either at the colleges or in the K12 schools of the states that fund most teacher prep programs.
Even worse, part of the DOE’s new regulations will tie teachers graduating from the prep programs to the “academic performance of the students they teach”. Which will further solidify the testing culture that is already the primary instructional focus of most schools in this country.
Image: Created by Laurène Smith for the Noun Project and used under a Creative Commons license.