Indiana

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Report: Most School Districts Have Already Absorbed Cost Of Common Core Transition

Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, talks with Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, before the third Common Core panel.

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, talks with Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, before the third Common Core panel. State lawmakers discuss the cost of transitioning to new academic standards and assessments.

State lawmakers spent Tuesday putting a price tag on how much it will cost to implement new academic standards and assessments.

The legislation that triggered a review of Indiana’s academic standards also required the state’s Office of Management and Budget to prepare an analysis of the cost of transitioning to Common Core, the nationally crafted academic standards state education officials adopted back in 2010.

“We tried to figure out how much it stretched budgets in the past to try to figure out somehow whether or not a change would stretch budgets in the future,” says Chad Timmerman, one of the authors of the report.

Timmerman told lawmakers that on the whole, most Indiana school districts would have purchased new technology and textbooks even if the state hadn’t adopted new academic standards.

“At the local level, a lot of these costs are going to be absorbable and be considered the normal cost of doing business,” he says.

But as we wrote earlier this week, the real cost to the state comes if Indiana has to administer two tests in 2015. It’s a possibility because the Indiana General Assembly has mandated that students take ISTEP+, which won’t satisfy the requirements of the state’s federal accountability waiver.

Indiana currently spends about $34 million on testing annually. Giving a second, Common Core-aligned test in 2015 would cost at least $20 million more. The good news is no one wants to give two tests next year, and a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education says the state is already working to avoid that possibility.

But retooling the ISTEP+ to test college- and career-readiness would also be expensive — upwards of $46 million in 2014-15.

And as Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, pointed out, the state has only earmarked about $45 million for testing and remediation during the 2014-15 school year.

“We exceed that $45 million dollars,” says Skinner. “That would use the entire budget. There wouldn’t be anything left for remediation.”

You can check out the full Office of Management and Budget report below.

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