Putting Education Reform To The Test

Explaining What Florida’s Next Standardized Test Should Cost

Florida spends a total of $41 per student on testing each year, according to a Brookings Institution report.

therogerbacon / Flickr

Florida spends a total of $41 per student on testing each year, according to a Brookings Institution report.

On Monday we explained the options Florida has in choosing its next standardized test.The new test is part of Florida’s move to shared Common Core education standards.

Florida could stick with the Partnership for Assessment of College and Careers — or PARCC — one of two multi-state consortia designing tests for Common Core. Florida could also design its own test or go with a test designed by a testing company, such as the ACT Aspire.

Education Commissioner Tony Bennett will consider test quality, whether the test is comparable to the current Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and whether the test has a pencil and paper option in addition to an interactive online exam.

One other big question is cost.

Florida spends $54.3 million each year on testing. The state spends an average of $12 per student, per test, according to Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters.

PARCC will announce how much the test will cost per student later this month.

But some states already believe they can save money by designing their own test. Oklahoma said they will save $2 million, which is one reason why the state will not adopt PARCC.

Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core State Standards, and lawmakers there told the state Department of Education to design a new test by 2012.

Ken Draut, Kentucky’s Associate Commissioner of Education, said their state-designed test costs $9 million for grades 3 through 8, or $26 a student. Kentucky uses ACT exams in high school.

“We’re kind of in the middle,” Draut said of test cost. “That’s one of the things you have to look at is, what does our state budget support? And can we build a test for what’s in the state budget?

Last year Brookings Institute researcher Matt Chingos estimated that states spent $1.7 billion in testing per year.

Washington, D.C. schools spent the most per student on testing of the 45 states surveyed — $114. New York spent the least at $7 per student.

Florida spent a total of $41 per student on testing, according to Chingos’ estimates, which includes the FCAT and various college placement exams. The average state spent $27 per student on testing.

The two testing consortia said the new exams should cost close to the national average.

The multi-state group Florida didn’t join — Smarter Balanced — said the test will cost $22.50 per student for its end-of-year exams. The package will cost $27.30 per student when benchmark exams given at the beginning of the year and middle of the year are added.

A spokesman for ACT said the company did not yet know what its Aspire test will cost.

We’ll find out soon if PARCC will cost more.

Florida is scheduled to start using the new exam in 2015. For a peek of how things will change from FCAT, watch this video.

A chart of Chingos’ data is below, thanks to StateImpact Indiana.

[spreadsheet key=”0AosSHAkDJBqpdDNSVHBoeUNCQXUzSXpUTUdiOU5HSVE” source=”” filter=0 paginate=1 sortable=1]


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »