Marketplace last night broadcast an interesting piece on the cost of building the Common Core standardized tests, the first round of which our kids will soon be taking:
That kind of test is more expensive, says Scott Marion, associate director of the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment. Each question has to be written, then reviewed for bias and age-appropriateness, and field tested. Then it may be revised or even thrown out. When you add up nine grade levels, all with different tests in math and English, we’re talking thousands and thousands of questions. Marion estimates a single multiple- choice question costs roughly $1,000 to develop.
“When you get into more open-ended questions, you get into three, four, five thousand dollars per question,” he says [Amy Scott, "With Common Core Testing, You Get What You Pay For," Marketplace, 2015.02.09].
When I taught French at Spearfish High School, I wrote my own final exams. The French 1 exam had 120 vocab questions, around ten verb conjugations, ten translation questions, and fifteen oral interview questions. None were multiple choice questions, but none were complicated essay questions. Using Common Core math, let's put my question-development cost at $3,000. One French final exam with 145 questions would cost $465,000 to develop. Consider that I prepared similar exams for French 2 and French 3 and created separate semester and final exams. That's $2.79 million in test-creation value, and that's without adding the cost of regular vocab quizzes, oral interviews, and other assessments throughout the year. And shall we discuss the time I spent grading those tests?
South Dakota, you got $2.79 million in value for a mere $35,500 a year. Yet I keep coming back for more. You're a lucky state, South Dakota.
p.s.: Just as South Dakota is about to get the first payoff on its investment in those fancy-pants Common Core tests, Rep. Blaine Campbell (R-35/Rapid City) and some of our archest conservatives propose House Bill 1223 to end South Dakota's involvement with Common Core and outlaw our use of any similar multistate standards.