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Common Core to Cost Kansas Districts up to $30M Annually

Implementing the Common Core State Standards will cost school districts in Kansas $16 million to $30 million over the next two years, a state audit finds, significantly below similar estimates from other studies released by education policy think tanks.

The Dec. 13 audit by the state's Legislative Post Audit Committee deals with the total cost of implementing Kansas' waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, but the common standards are a big part of that, since they fulfill the waiver's requirement for "college- and career-ready" standards. The total waiver cost for Kansas is estimated at between $34 million and $63 million over five years. The total cost for school districts to implement the common core is put at between $32 million and $60 million, although that's over only the next two years. (The audit says the state department of education won't incur significant common-core-related expenses.)

Of those common-core costs, the audit estimates that over the next two years, $30 million to $50 million will be due to new instruction materials. Over the next year, it will also cost districts $2 million to $10 million to train teachers in the standards.

Here's a bit more on the teacher-training piece: The audit estimates that each Kansas teacher will need need 16 hours of common-core training, not 80 hours as estimated in studies produced by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Pioneer Institute. The audit also used an analysis from the Montana Legislative Fiscal Division to form its cost estimates, and adds that both the Fordham and Pioneer studies used cost estimates from California officials for their reports.

The state does not face significant technology costs related to administering the upcoming common core assessments "because nearly all Kansas student assessment tests are currently administered online. In fact, [Kansas education department] policy requires schools to administer the assessments online," the Kansas audit says.

In the end, "only" 63 percent of teachers ultimately need common core training, the audit report for Kansas stated.

So, annual common core costs for Kansas aren't monstrous according to this audit, at least not when compared to other significant education costs. But the five-year total topping out at $60 million could be distasteful for some lawmakers. And remember, Kansas has a relatively low population of students. When you consider the states with much larger enrollment figures, total common-core implementation costs for all the states will likely add up to hundreds of millions of dollars, if this audit is any guide. Fordham, in fact, estimates the "balanced" cost of implementing the common core (taking the total gross costs of common-core implementation and then subtracting the states' relevant current expenditures) at just under $1.2 billion.

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