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Interesting exchange about Common Core costs in other states: it sure doesn’t cost much!

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After his bill was ravaged in its hearing before the House Education Committee, Rep. Glenn Cordelli sent this email to his committee colleagues, together with these attachments, to make the case that other states had found the Common Core expensive to implement.  Rep. Myler responded that, based on the information Rep. Cordelli had sent, the opposite was the case – these states had determined that the new standards had not cost much at all!  And our experience in New Hampshire confirms that.

From Rep. Cordelli:

From: “Cordelli, Glenn” <>
To: “~House Education Committee” <>
Subject: HB 1239 follow-up

Good afternoon.
I just wanted to follow-up on some of the discussion yesterday related to HB 1239 about other states doing analysis of implementation costs.
I have attached Common Core fiscal analysis from Indiana, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Washington St (see tables 8&9).
In addition, below are links to additional information:




Thanks for your consideration.

From Rep. Myler:

Fellow Education Committee member Rep. Mel Myler responded with the email below, including this attachment.

Rep. Cordelli,

Thank you for these links in your recent email.  However, I have found that these reports are much too voluminous and prohibitive for a detailed study.  Time just does not permit my total review of the data.  Must leave this to the professionals who are paid for critical analysis.  However, in scanning the material I did find some interesting information.  [See attached “Common Core – Fiscal Issues: Indiana, Wisconsin, and Washington, Tennessee“]


Indiana:  “To date, Indiana has undergone four years of implementation of ICCS, including one year of preparation. In surveying local principals, interviewing local superintendents and Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) assessment officials, and analyzing historical school-level expenditures, the majority of qualitative and quantitative feedback suggested that local schools had already or were capable of transitioning to new standards with existing levels of funding.”

Wisconsin: “In general, school districts typically review and update their curriculums every five to seven years. With nearly five years in which to fully implement the common core standards, the Department intended to permit school districts to build the common core into the normal cycle of curriculum updates, without incurring costs in excess of what would typically be budgeted for these activities.”

Washington: “1. The CCSS will produce ―economies of scale that will result in opportunities to leverage and blend resources (fiscal and content expertise) at local, regional, state, national levels, and that will decrease the costs of ―going-it-alone with different state standards.

2. Newly purchased instructional materials in both subjects are likely to align well with the CCSS – there will be more aligned and consistent support for this on a larger scale. If adoption of the CCSS does not take place school districts will continue to need to purchase and/or develop supplemental materials.

3. There will be increased alignment between K–12 expectations and college entrance expectations, which may result in fewer financial resources going to support student remediation.”

Tennessee: “The costs of preparing students to meet the Common Core State Standards are similar to the costs currently allocated for the education of children. The Tennessee Department of Education and local schools and districts have always paid for assessment, professional development of teachers, and materials and resources. These costs will continue, but the transition to Common Core State Standards should involve similar costs as administration of the current Tennessee Diploma Project standards.”

I do wonder, though, whether we need these far off examples.  California, for instance, buys its textbooks in a much different manner from New Hampshire.  For example, I have been working for the past 15 months in Malden (MA) on a school transformation initiative with the Massachusetts Education Partnership’s District Capacity Project.  I have asked Superintendent DeRousi about the cost the district has incurred as a result of their transition to the common core and he informs me that they have adjusted within their budget normal cost for the transition (e.g., professional development, technology, etc.).  No additional funding was needed.

Last Thursday we heard from Superintendent John Freeman of Pittsfield that they did not need to buy new “Common Core” textbooks.  And all the New Hampshire evidence we have confirms Superintendent Freeman’s persuasive and clearly grounded evidence.

For instance, there is the Fordham Institute analysis you referred to.  Fordham says that, depending on how you do it, the cost could range from $3 billion to $12 billion nation-wide and is likely to be $8.9 million over three years in New Hampshire.  That’s less than $3 million per year, state-wide – in other words, almost nothing when looking at the total cost of education.

This is consistent with what New Hampshire superintendents have said – on the record.  For instance, Dr. Brian Blake, Superintendent of Sanborn Regional School District in Kingston and Newton said almost the same thing Superintendent Freeman said.  Dr. Blake says he’s paying for the Common Core in the normal course of business:

“Most, if not all, school districts have a curriculum review cycle that involves a review of the existing curriculum, realignment if necessary, and the purchase of new and/or supplementary materials.  Over the past five years, the Sanborn Regional School district has utilized the curriculum review cycle to ensure curriculum alignment with the expectations in the Common Core.

…the Common Core assessments (Smarter Balanced in the case of NH), will be about the same as the costs of the NECAP testing, which we have had in the State for years.

…Our technology purchases have positioned us to be ready for the Smarter Balanced Assessments without any additional impact on the system.”

White Mountains Regional School District has been implementing the Common Core for several years.  Superintendent Harry Fensom says that “The new standards have been implemented in all WMRSD classrooms” and implementing the standards “has to date required no increase in the district-approved budget.”  He goes on to say that, “With regard to curriculum, training, etc. there have been no increases to accommodate CCSS.”

And Superintendent Mark Conrad said at the October 2 Nashua School Board work session on the role of the Common Core in the district’s curriculum (and he has repeated this since), that the district is prepared for the Smarter Balanced assessment:

“Technology is coming about naturally…. What we do in technology is not related to the Common Core….The one area in which technology is related to the Common Core is in providing the Smarter Balanced assessment.  For most districts in New Hampshire that’s not going to be a concern and it’s not a concern for us – for several reasons. First, we have the bandwidth that’s required to provide the assessments on-line….Also, there’s a 12 week window for the Smarter Balanced, which means that you can rotate students through a very long window into more limited capacity. The Common Core isn’t driving what we do in technology.”

Clearly, we are always concerned with the fiscal impact of educational decisions.  However, my discussions indicate that CCSS transition costs can be maintained with the current fiscal constraints of a school districts budget.  I have found that often that additional funding is not needed for a school transformation, but it is more a realignment of resource allocation based on a sound mission, vision, and core values driving intentional decision making. I would propose that we discuss the cost issue with each of these credible superintendents noted above who are from widely varying districts.  These are closer to home and a more reliable source of data than reports from distant states with much different education and fiscal policies.

Change is not easy.  However, the challenges we face with a changing student body in a digital age, we need to provide a more rigorous academic experience for our students of all ages.


Rep.  Mel Myler

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