States’ Taxpayers Cannot Afford Common Core Standards
The total nationwide cost for 7 years of the Common Core Standards Initiative is $15.8 billion. This includes the cost to states of CCS Testing, Professional Development, Textbooks, and Technology. (Other costs not shown in this report would be the cost to set up and administer a nationalized teacher evaluation system and a national student/educator database.)
The taxpayers in each of the 45 states (and D. C.) that have committed to the Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSI) will be left “holding the bag” because our federal government with a national debt of $16 trillion cannot come in and alleviate the cost to the states.
Because it will cost California $2.2 billion to implement the Common Core Standards but California only received $104 million ($0.1 billion) from the federal government for competitive Stimulus awards, the taxpayers of California will have to come up with $2.1 billion out of their state coffers.
With California on the brink of bankruptcy, where would their taxpayers come up with $2.1 billion? (Please see Table 1 at the end of this report for a complete listing of CCS losses per state.)
Where would other states such as the ones listed below find the extra funding to implement the Common Core Standards?
Illinois — $733 million
Pennsylvania — $647 million
Michigan — $569 million
As a block, the states will spend $16 billion and get only $5 billion in federal grants. Why would the states change to a system that costs several times what they will receive in return? That does not sound like a very good deal to me.
The cost for CCS does not suddenly end at Year 7. The ongoing cost for Year 8 and after will be $801 million per year.
The up-front, one-time cost for CCS implementation is two-thirds (67%) of the Total Cost for 7 years.
This report will focus primarily on the cost of implementing the Common Core Standards in each of the 46 states (45 states plus D.C.).
*A very helpful compilation of Anti-CCSI Resources has recently been posted at:
Background on Common Core Standards and RTTT
Picture this scenario: You are the CEO of a large company. An outside company offered your company an incentive to persuade you to convert to their system. Would you change the main system in your company if you knew it would cost more money to convert than the amount of the incentive?
That is what 45 states (and the District of Columbia) did in adopting the Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSI). Under the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program (RTTT), states competed for $4.35 Billion in federal grants.
In exchange for the potential funds, states had to drop their own state education standards and adopt the Common Core Standards Initiative (a.k.a., CCS) — nationalized curriculum standards, nationalized curriculum, nationalized assessments, a nationalized teacher evaluation system, and a nationalized database.
Under the $787 billion Stimulus measure, money was set aside for RTTT funding. About $3.9 billion was awarded in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of RTTT in 2010; since then, an additional $1.5 billion has been granted. This brings the total competitive awards to $5.4 billion.
Cost to Implement CCS
How about the costs? One reliable estimate places the nationwide cost of implementing CCS at $15.8 billion. Another estimate pegs the total CCS cost at $30 billion.
As a block, the states will spend $16 billion and get $5 billion in federal grants. Why would the states change to a system that costs several times what they will receive in return? That does not sound like a very good deal to me.
When the states were competing for those coveted federal dollars, they were not calculating realistic costs for the conversion. Theodor Rebarber, CEO and founder of AccountabilityWorks, explained: “States did almost no costs analysis” when they signed on to adopt the Common Core standards. They sorely needed the money and viewed CCS through the proverbial “rose-colored glasses.”
If the RTTT grant money were the chief reason that states adopted the Common Core Standards Initiative (the nationalization of the public schools), would they drop out of CCS if the conversion costs were significantly higher than the RTTT funds received from the federal government? That is a good question.
This report will briefly cover the federal RTTT awards; however, the major emphasis will be on the cost side of the equation. I think many states will “get off the national standards train” once the real costs are known.
When I was searching for reliable cost estimates on implementing the Common Core Standards, I found an excellent White Paper report published by the Pioneer Institute entitled National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards by AccountabilityWorks, No. 82 – February 2012.
My report is based almost entirely on this outstanding Pioneer Institute White Paper.
Quality of the Standards
I think it is obvious that money was the chief reason that the states gave up their own state standards and adopted the Common Core Standards (CCS).
People might try to argue that the national standards are an improvement over the states’ standards. Numerous education experts certainly do not think the Common Core Standards are an improvement over the state standards.
Two of these experts are Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Ze’ev Wurman. The Pioneer Institute included these statements on page 4 of the report:
Pioneer Institute retained experts with knowledge of the subject matter to develop a series of white papers that provided specific recommendations for improvement and, ultimately, questioned whether states with highly regarded standards (e.g., Massachusetts and California) would benefit from replacing their current standards with the new Common Core standards.
Ze’ev Wurman and Sandra Stotsky questioned the academic rigor, as well as a perceived lack of transparency and the accelerated nature of the development process, charging that it didn’t permit sufficient time for public or other expert review and comment.
On 5.20.10, The Pacific Research Institute released its report on the national standards:
‘These proposed national standards are vague and lack the academic rigor of the standards in Massachusetts and a number of other states,’ said Pioneer Institute Executive Director Jim Stergios. ‘The new report shows that these weak standards will result in weak assessments. After so much progress and the investment of billions of tax dollars, it amounts to snatching mediocrity from the jaws of excellence.’
Dr. R. James Milgram and Dr. Sandra Stotsky issued another report on the national standards for math and English. The title best captures their overall sentiments: Fair to Middling: A National Standards Progress Report. Stotsky determined that the elements were too broadly worded, and explicit goals were not established. Also the literature standards were deemed to be very weak. Dr. Milgram made these comments about the Mathematics standards:
The proposed standards are, however, very uneven in quality and do not match up well either with the best state standards or with international expectations.
Texas wisely shunned the national standards movement and devoted considerable energy into writing its own standards. The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) adopted excellent standards documents during the last four years for English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR), Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics. Many experts deem these four standards documents to be the best in the country!
Pioneer Institute White Paper Report
National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards, A Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project White Paper, No. 82 – February 2012
The Pioneer white paper provides a thorough analysis of the cost of implementing the Common Core Standards. The report states:
The goal of this analysis was to develop a ‘middle of the road’ estimate of the ‘incremental’ (i.e., additional) cost of implementing the Common Core standards based, as much as possible, on actual state or local experience implementing similar initiatives.
Please note that the Pioneer Institute report gives the incremental or additional expenses borne by the states for implementing CCS during the 7-year period.
I strongly urge the readers to study the Pioneer Institute report. Also, a wealth of information is included in the Appendices to the Pioneer white paper. The Appendices provide enrollment numbers and detailed cost breakdowns for every state.
Analysis of the Pioneer CCS Information
My goal has been to utilize the research done by the Pioneer Institute but to go one step further by calculating (1) the cost for each CCS category in each state, and (2) the total CCS cost for each state.
The Pioneer Institute white paper includes costs for four categories: Testing, Professional Development, Textbooks, and Technology. The Appendices to the Pioneer Institute report provide dollar figures for Textbooks and Technology for each state. I derived the Testing costs and Professional Development costs for each state from the Pioneer white paper Figure 2B (Table 5) and the Pioneer report’s assumptions.
Highlights from CCS Tables
CCS Loss Per State (Please refer to Table 1)
1. California will lose $2,084 million ($2.084 billion) on CCS implementation. (Translation: California taxpayers will have to take $2.1 billion from their state coffers to pay for CCS.)
2. Illinois will lose $733 million on CCS implementation.
(Translation: Illinois taxpayers will have to take $733 million out of their state coffers to pay for CCS.)
3. Pennsylvania will lose $647 million on CCS implementation.
4. Michigan will lose $569 million on CCS implementation.
5. New Jersey will lose $564 million on CCS implementation.
6. Indiana will lose $387 million on CCS implementation.
7. Arizona will lose $349 million on CCS implementation.
8. Missouri will lose $336 million on CCS implementation.
9. Washington will lose $331 million on CCS implementation.
10. Wisconsin will lose $313 million on CCS implementation.
11. Six states show a gain (the federal awards are more than the expenditures for CCS implementation and administration).
12. Tennessee has the largest CCS gain, with $145 million; the District of Columbia has the second largest gain, at $76 million.
13. Maryland has the smallest gain, with $7 million.
CCS Cost Per Student (Please refer to Table 2)
1. In Vermont, the cost per student to implement and administer CCS will be $433.
2. In the District of Columbia, the CCS Cost per Student will be $425.
3. In North Dakota, the CCS Cost per Student will be $424.
4. In New Jersey, the CCS Cost per Student will be $419.
5. In Maine, the CCS Cost per Student will be $418.
6. In New York, the CCS Cost per Student will be $411.
7. In Wyoming, the CCS Cost per Student will be $410.
8. In Rhode Island, the CCS Cost per Student will be $406.
9. In New Hampshire, the CCS Cost per Student will be $404.
10. In Arkansas, the CCS Cost per Student will be $403.
11. The CCS Cost per Student varies from $337 (in Utah) to $433 (in Vermont); the average CCS Cost per Student for the 46 states is $379.
Nationwide CCS Costs and Percentages (Please refer to Table 4)
1. The largest category is Technology, at $6.9 billion; this is 43% of the $15.8 billion Total Cost.
2. The second largest category is Professional Development, at $5.3 billion; this is 33% of the Total Cost.
3. The third largest category is Textbooks, at $2.5 billion; this is 16% of the Total Cost.
4. The smallest category is Testing, at $1.2 billion; this is 8% of the Total Cost.
Nationwide CCS Cost (Please refer to Table 5)
1. The Total Nationwide Cost for 7 years of CCS implementation is $15.835 billion.
2. The up-front, one-time cost for CCS implementation is $10.5 billion; this is two-thirds (67%) of the Total Cost of $15.8 billion for 7 years.
3. The cost for Year 1 operations is $503 million.
4. The ongoing annual operational costs for Years 2-7 are $801.5 million. [$801.5 million x 6 years = $4.809 billion]
5. The cost for CCS does not suddenly end at Year 7. The ongoing cost for Year 8 and after will be $801 million per year.
Competitive Stimulus Awards (Please refer to Table 8)
1. Average Grant per State (51 States) = $105,430,332
2. Average Grant per State (First 41 States) = $131,145,047
3. Average Grant per Student (51 States) = $109
4. Average Grant per Student (First 41 States) = $121
5. Median Grant per Student (51 States) = $24
6. Median Grant per Student (First 41 States) = $33
Description Total Awarded Enrollment Grant Per Student
Total for 51 States $5,376,946,918 49,181,237 $109
Total for First 41 States $5,376,946,918 44,522,237 $121
The main reason that the states gave up their standards and adopted the Common Core Standards was the potential money offered under the Race to the Top program. Unfortunately, that federal ploy of the “carrot and stick” has worked wonderfully; 45 states (plus D. C.) have signed on to the national standards.
The quality of the national standards is questionable and unproven. The Common Core Standards have not been piloted under controlled research standards and have not been internationally benchmarked. No one knows whether or not students will actually increase their academic achievement by being taught the CCS.
The 45 states (and D. C.) committed to adopt the CCS before the standards documents (English and Math) were even completed and made public. Several states blindly dropped their stellar standards in favor of the mediocre national standards.
The Pioneer Institute published a commendable breakdown of the cost to implement CCS.
I expanded upon Pioneer’s work to produce detailed CCS costs for every state.
Most states will lose money when they fully implement the national standards in their state. California stands to lose a whopping $2 billion on CCS! Illinois will lose $733 million; and Pennsylvania will lose $647 million. Those states’ taxpayers will have to make up for the differences from their state coffers.
The average cost per student for the implementation of CCS in the 45 CCS states (plus D. C.) is $379. The costs varied from a low of $337 to a high of $433 per student.
However, the average amount of federal funding granted to the states was $109 per student.
The decision by these 45 states (and D. C.) to adopt CCS will be terribly expensive indeed!
The Conclusion to the Pioneer Institute white paper provides these insights:
While a handful of states have begun to analyze these costs, most states have signed on to the initiative without a thorough, public vetting of the costs and benefits.
In particular, there has been very little attention to the potential technology infrastructure costs that currently cash-strapped districts may face in order to implement the Common Core assessments within a reasonable testing window.
I believe that when the states become aware of the high cost of implementing the Common Core Standards, they will seriously want to consider their options. If a state is truly concerned about protecting the taxpayers, the state will opt out of the costly national standards.
Table No. Description
Table 1 CCS Loss Per State
Table 2 CCS Cost Per Student
Table 3 Total CCS Cost
Table 4 Nationwide CCS Costs and Percentages
Table 5 Nationwide CCS Cost (Pioneer Figure 2B)
Table 6 Students and Teachers (CCS States)
Table 7 Students and Teachers (Non-CCS States)
Table 8 Competitive Stimulus Awards
Table 1– CCS Loss Per State
The following table (in millions of dollars) shows the difference between the amount of RTTT grant funds a state received and the total cost of implementation of CCS. The states with the plus signs have a “gain” on cost minus awards. All of the other states have a loss and will have to make up the difference out of their state coffers.
(Cost – Awards)
(+ = Gain)
|DC||District of Columbia||29.331||105.253||+ 75.922|
|RI||Rhode Island||58.883||75.000||+ 16.117|
Table 2 — CCS Cost Per Student
(Total Cost in $ Millions) [Cost per Student in dollars as shown]
|DC||District of Columbia||29.331||68,984||425|
Table 3 — Total CCS Cost
The column that is particularly significant is the far-right column — Total Cost. This is the Total Cost (in millions of dollars) that each state will have to bear to implement the CCS.
Notes on Table 3:
1. Testing — The Testing cost for each state was determined by multiplying the number of students in the state by $29.6768 per student. My total Testing cost of $1,240.641 million is identical to Table 5 (Pioneer’s Figure 2B).
2. Professional Development — The Professional Development cost for each state was determined by multiplying the number of teachers in the state by $1,931 per teacher. My total cost for Professional Development is consistent with the total number of teachers in the 46 CCS states (2,722,470 teachers). My total Professional Development cost of $5,257.089 million is slightly under the Table 5 amount (Pioneer Figure 2B).
3. Textbooks — The Textbook costs for each state were taken directly from the Pioneer report Appendix. My total Textbook cost of $2,469.098 million is identical to Table 5 (Pioneer Figure 2B).
4. Technology — The Technology costs for each state were obtained directly from the Pioneer Appendix. My total Technology cost of $6,867.889 million is identical to Table 5 (Pioneer Figure 2B).
Table 4 — Nationwide CCS Costs and Percentages
|Professional Development||$5,257.089||33 %|
Table 5 — Nationwide CCS Cost (Pioneer Figure 2B)
Overview of Projected Costs to Implement Common Core Standards
Years 2-7 Ongoing Operations
Source: Pioneer Institute report (page 2)
Table 6– Students and Teachers (CCS States)
|DC||District of Columbia||68,984||6,370||10.8|
Notes on Table 6:
1. The Pioneer Institute report Appendix includes a table on student enrollment in each state. The information was obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); figures are for the 2009 – 2010 School Year.
2. The figures in Table 6 were taken from the Pioneer Appendix. The Appendix lists the Student enrollment for each grade and the total for all grades. The Appendix table also shows the number of teachers and the students-per-teacher ratio for each state.
Table 7– Students and Teachers (Non-CCS States)
To date, 45 states plus the District of Columbia have officially committed to follow the CCSI. The following states have not committed to the CCSI: Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia.
Table 8 — Competitive Stimulus Awards
(States Ranked by Total Grants Awarded, Per Student)
Table 8 emphasizes the Grant per Student. Please notice how few dollars the states actually received per student; yet to receive the money, states completely aligned their education policies in accordance with the U. S. Department of Education’s requirements. In other words, for a pittance per student, states gave up control of their schools and put that control into the hands of the federal government.
|1.||District of Colum.||$105,253,403||68,681||$1,533|
Sources for this report: Education Week, “Competitive Stimulus Grants: Winners and Losers,” September 21, 2012; and U.S. Department of Education.
Table taken from “Do Not Let the DOE Nationalize the Schools in Your State,” by Henry W. Burke and Donna Garner, 9.23.12.
Bio for Henry W. Burke
Henry Burke is a Civil Engineer with a B.S.C.E. and M.S.C.E. He has been a Registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) for 37 years and has worked as a Civil Engineer in construction for over 40 years.
Mr. Burke had a successful 27-year career with a large construction contractor.
Henry Burke serves as a full-time volunteer to oversee various construction projects. He has written numerous articles on education, engineering, construction, politics, taxes, and the economy.
Henry W. Burke