Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Education

PolitiFact Florida: Education commissioner half right on Common Core cost

One of the many complaints about Florida's move toward new school standards has centered on how much it will cost. But at a recent public hearing on the standards, Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said cost shouldn't be a major factor. "Our analysis is there is not an additional cost with implementation of the Common Core standards."

Her assertion brought out the doubters, even among supporters of the K-12 English and math standards.

PolitiFact Florida decided to take a closer look. But the issue isn't as clear cut as you might imagine.

Most policy analysts agree that Common Core implementation carries expenses. The National Conference of State Legislatures offers a sample list of what to expect: one-time transition costs such as new instructional materials, tests, technology and teacher training, and ongoing maintenance and updates.

"When taking into account all of the things that need to be updated and the fact that it's difficult for state education agencies to change their practice … I think it will be extremely challenging to keep costs flat," said Anne Hyslop, an education analyst for the New America Foundation.

Indeed, the Florida Department of Education created a spreadsheet in February detailing more than $100 million in Common Core projects the state had embarked upon. The items included $24 million for the creation of student tutorial lessons, $4.7 million to generate math assessments and lesson study toolkits, and $25.5 million for a database of test questions for teachers.

Funding for the vast majority of these projects came from a federal Race to the Top grant that Florida won, in part, for agreeing to adopt the Common Core.

During the spring 2013 legislative session, Florida lawmakers noted that testing for the new standards would require computers. They adopted a law barring the state from using Common Core-affiliated tests until all schools had the needed technology in place. The bill analysis noted that the State Board of Education requested $442 million for the improvements, a number later revised downward to $100 million.

Still, Stewart isn't completely wrong.

"It costs something," said Patrick Murphy, research director for the Public Policy Institute of California who co-wrote a national report on costs associated with Common Core. "The question is, does it cost extra money than we were going to spend?"

State officials say that much of the implementation, such as training and textbook purchases, would have been funded in some form even if the state weren't using the standards. "The purchase of materials for the new standards was embedded in our regular instructional materials purchase cycle so did not result in additional purchases or increased costs unless school districts chose to do so," said DOE spokeswoman Tiffany Cowie in an email.

As another example, the state's move to improve school technology could be attributed to a 2011 legislative mandate to have materials fully digital by 2015, or an even earlier press to transition all state testing to computers. "This process began before Florida's standards were adopted and will continue regardless of Florida's new standards," Cowie said.

So some of the money spent on Common Core is money the state would have spent anyway. But experts said it's unlikely that implementing the new standards will cost the state no additional money. Another wrinkle: The state received a federal grant to help pay for Common Core implementation.

Overall, we rate her statement Half True.

This report has been edited for print. Read the full fact-check and complete sources at politifact.com/florida.

Comments
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18
School board races attract new faces

School board races attract new faces

TAMPA — When long-time Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes resigned this month from the board to run for the State House of Representatives, the decision affected more than just her seat in west Hillsborough’s District 1.It also coul...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/17/18
Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

TAMPA — Money that the Hillsborough County School District needs to build schools and replace air conditioners might be farther from reach, thanks to a new state law and a bureaucratic process required before the voters can decide on a tax referendum...
Published: 06/14/18
University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

The University of Chicago will no longer require ACT or SAT scores from U.S. students, sending a jolt through elite institutions of higher education as it becomes the first top-10 research university to join the test-optional movement.Numerous school...
Published: 06/14/18
Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano presented to the School Board Tuesday nearly $53 million worth of budget priorities, asking them to choose which will be funded in the upcoming school year.The board voted 3-2 later Tue...
Published: 06/13/18
UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

The University of Tampa’s MFA program will host the June 2018 Residency Visiting Writers Lectores Series that runs from now until June 21 on the ninth floor of the Vaughn Center, 401 W Kennedy Blvd. Each reading will be held at 7:30 p.m.Each January ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano will step down at the end of this month following a 3-2 vote by the School Board to terminate its contract with her amid increasing concerns about her ability to lead.Romano has suffere...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18
Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

NEW PORT RICHEY — The dozen Fivay High school students and their administrators arrived at the Pasco County school district’s annual Together We Stand conference with a clear goal in mind.With hundreds of former Ridgewood High students arriving in th...
Published: 06/12/18
Central’s air rifle team prepares for national competition

Central’s air rifle team prepares for national competition

BROOKSVILLE — Historic Camp Perry is where it’s at. Located near Clinton, Ohio, the National Guard training facility is where the nation’s top shooters go to compete.Next week, some of Hernando County’s top shooters compete there in the Civilian Mark...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/14/18