K-12 Leaders Worried About Tech. Costs of Common-Core Testing

By Sean Cavanagh — December 18, 2012 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print


The vast majority of states are moving toward implementing new tests to coincide with the Common Core State Standards. But major questions remain—perhaps the most pressing of which is who’s going to pay for the new technology needed to give those exams.

Education Week explored this topic in depth in a series of stories in our most recent edition of Digital Directions. In some states and local districts, questions about the costs of adopting technology to align with the common core are apparently causing school leaders some unease.

In Hamilton County, Tenn., home to Chattanooga, school officials have voiced worries that they’ll get stuck with a bill because of the state’s commitments to move to computer-based testing that meets the requirements of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, one of two consortia focused on creating new tests to match the commmon core.

In addition to having signed up for PARCC, the state’s commitment to move to more advanced testing technology can also be traced to its successful application for federal Race to the Top funds, and the promises it made in securing a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, according to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.

The two testing consortia, the PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, have received $170 million and $160 million in federal grants to develop the common-core assessments, and once those assessments are ready, states will be expected to pay for them. But the size of states’ costs—and the extent to which they will get pushed down to the local level—is anyone’s guess.

The two consortia have said that items within their tests will require a variety of different responses (taking students well beyond the multiple-choice answers), and will be aimed at gauging students’ analytical and applied skills, as well as their content knowledge.

Those demands are likely to force states and districts to choose among a variety of tech options through which students will be allowed to take the tests.

[CORRECTION (11:30 a.m.): Douglas Levin, the executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, points out that both consortia have, in fact, issued direction to state and local official on technology and the common core, to a greater extent that I originally explained. He notes that the current tech guidance issued by both consortia do not allow smartphones, and would not allow some types of tablets.

The two consortia—which Levin says his group has been advising—are setting guidance for states and districts while keeping in mind a number of concerns, he noted. Those concerns include issues such as only allowing the use of devices that provide adequate test security, and setting device requirements that are sufficiently consistent - for instance, by requiring students to not have to scroll to be able to display the complete test item, as would occur on devices with smaller screens.

For state and local officials with questions about what might be required of them, the state tech directors’ association has published resources meant to guide them. The organization has also released a broader guide meant to help state and district officials who are grappling with various financial, technological, and related concerns surrounding implementation of the common core. The most recent guidance from the two consortia on technology are also posted online.]

In Tennessee, Hamilton County’s schools superintendent, Rick Smith, has questioned whether his district might get stuck with a big technology tab, and has called for state legislators to fund the costs of meeting the demands of the new tests, the newspaper reports.

The state’s department of education says it has no plans to ask districts for tech money, the newspaper reports. A leading state lawmaker, meanwhile, said it’s too soon to know who will cover which expenses. But he said the state’s rising health care costs will drain some money from school budgets, including those devoted to tech spending.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Assessment Spotlight Spotlight on Assessment in 2021
In this Spotlight, review newest assessment scores, see how districts will catch up with their supports for disabled students, plus more.
Assessment 'Nation's Report Card' Has a New Reading Framework, After a Drawn-Out Battle Over Equity
The new framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress will guide development of the 2026 reading test.
10 min read
results 925693186 02
Assessment Opinion Q&A Collections: Assessment
Scores of educators share commentaries on the use of assessments in schools.
5 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Assessment Standardized Tests Could Be in Jeopardy in Wake of Biden Decisions, Experts Say
Has the Biden administration shored up statewide tests this year only to risk undermining long-term public backing for them?
6 min read
Illustration of students in virus environment facing wave of test sheets.
Collage by Vanessa Solis/Education Week (Images: iStock/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty)