Getting Ready for the Common Core

David Wagner, Managing Editor | 11/30/2012 | 31 comments

David Wagner
CIOs are in the middle of huge technological changes due to the adoption of the Common Core Assessment Standards. Two studies help highlight where we are and the challenges CIOs still need to overcome.

The new standards are designed to help prepare K-12 students for college by increasing STEM training and providing more technology education in the classroom. They also call for more computer-based assessment of students. But they've also become intertwined with political battles over teacher compensation, tenure, and government funding. As such, the struggle to create accurate computer assessment is at the forefront of the initiative, and CIOs need to pay attention.

To make the Common Core work, CIOs are being told to update computer-based assessments and set up electronic exchanges so student test scores and other data can be shared easily but securely. Many states are behind in computer-based assessment and are really starting from scratch. The technological effort would be enough, but reports from the Brookings Institution and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) point to some of the obstacles CIOs and administrators need to overcome.

The largest one is cost. According to the Brookings report, it is shockingly difficult to add up the real costs of adopting the Common Core, because contractor costs are not readily available, and state capabilities vary wildly. But the best estimate is that the total cost across the 46 states adopting the Core will be $669 million, and total costs of all assessment methods will be at least $1.7 billion.

The report predicts that small states will incur the largest costs, due to the lack of economy of scale. Where states like California and New York might see cost increases as small as $17 per student, Hawaii would see increases of more than $100. This represents an increase of only 0.25 percent in total K-12 spending, but with budgets already tight, it may be difficult for CIOs to find the funding.

One solution is joining with other states to share costs. The report says that a state with 100,000 students joining a consortium of 1 million students can cut its costs by 37 percent. Two major consortia are already in place for adopting standards, but costs aren't necessarily being shared across those consortia, due to political and legal reasons. CIOs whose hands aren't tied need to reach out to partners in other states to help keep costs down.

Another major issue is the varying levels of technology in different states. The ASCD report says the group compared the troubles of four states (Arkansas, Utah, North Carolina, and Colorado) at a recent conference. Only Arkansas felt it lacked the IT infrastructure to make the Common Core work. The state said it lacked the hardware and bandwidth to reach rural schools, many of which would be adopting computer-based assessment for the first time. CIOs with large rural populations will need to take special note of the hardware and networking capabilities of their farthest-flung schools.

One thing that worried all four states was the inability of teachers to integrate technology into their teaching. Closing the digital divide and making the 21st century college student (not to mention the successful post-graduate worker) is a major part of the point of the Common Core, so it is alarming that teachers felt unprepared.

CIOs need to facilitate teachers' use of technology by providing not only the technology itself, but also training. They need to select solutions that are easy to integrate into the classroom. Most importantly, they need to work with curriculum experts to make sure the curriculum and the technology work together. More than ever, the CIO has the potential to improve the quality of teaching in the classroom.

States are at different stages in their adoption of the Core and the technological steps they need to take to make it work. But wherever you are, you're probably still struggling with cost and helping get teachers up to date with the new technology. Reaching out to partners will help, but you're going to have to do some of this the hard way. Share your best ideas for overcoming these hurdles.

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batye   Getting Ready for the Common Core   1/3/2013 10:05:54 AM
Re: Common differences
thanks :)
Syerita Turner   Getting Ready for the Common Core   1/3/2013 9:12:45 AM
Re: Common differences
@batye...I will be sure to do just that.  Thanks.
batye   Getting Ready for the Common Core   1/2/2013 11:39:31 AM
Re: Common differences
thanks, when it done, plase keep us posted on E2... :) or with updates...
Syerita Turner   Getting Ready for the Common Core   1/2/2013 11:21:24 AM
Re: Common differences
The company that I work for is implementing an online curriculum version for schools and is now marketing this tool to school districts all over the US so I am really eager to see how this pans out.
batye   Getting Ready for the Common Core   1/1/2013 11:32:43 PM
Re: Common differences

I think we are more integrated/involved with the technology what we know or willing to admit... yes I would like to see how the common core curriculum get implemented/use into the schools env... :)
Syerita Turner   Getting Ready for the Common Core   12/4/2012 11:59:08 AM
Re: Common differences
Everyone has to understand that the futue includes technology in all aspects of learning, education, jobs etc. Implementing the common core will tes the intelligenece of the teachers and also the students. With the rise of casinos in the state I live in (MD) there should not be an issue when it comes with the budget. I am looking forward to seeing how we will implement the common core curriculum into the schools whp are not familiar with change.
LuFu   Getting Ready for the Common Core   12/3/2012 1:38:24 PM
Common differences
It always seems like old times when it comes to education - and disparities between different regions in the country. Disparities may be related to regional and state politics or economic imbalances withing school districts. Now a new wrinkle, what is holding back uniform education standards of excellence is an uneven technology landscape.

There's always something. I remember when I was in 6th grade we moved from a city in central California to the SF Bay Area. It was a slap in the face the first day of class when it was time for math. There was a totally different textbook, a teacher who actually knew math, an intro to alegebra, and a cute girl sitting in front of me who did a sharp impression of Einstein that made me feel like a math dunce. Fortunately the teach understood my shortcomings and took extra time with me to help get me up to speed with the rest of the class. The thing is, if I had never moved I would never have realized how different (AKA, backward) my education was even though it was only 200 miles away.
batye   Getting Ready for the Common Core   12/2/2012 2:57:28 AM
Re: consortia?
I think it way of nature, new generation always smarter than old generation, as it increase survival rate and adaptability ...
MDMConsult   Getting Ready for the Common Core   11/30/2012 11:58:23 PM
Re: consortia?
With excellence in collaboration, there is a good point that educating teachers awareness of the complex different shifts in instruction curriculum that will be necessary under the system is crucial. Devloping and designing curriculum is critical. Outcomes should further create high scores, creativity should be executed well.
CurtisFranklin   Getting Ready for the Common Core   11/30/2012 10:28:09 PM
Re: the Common Core
@zerox203, accountability isn't arriving as quickly as I'd like, but it is coming in -- and it's being brought in through ledger accounts. In most states, the funding a school receives is tied to attendance. Every time parents decide to  move their child to a different school or shift to online or home-school options, the school loses the money that comes with that child. If it happens often enough, the school faces away.

It should happen more often, and more quickly, than it does, but I think the mechanisms are being put in place: That's a good thing (in my opinion).

And thank you for the discussion. I always, always learn something through these conversations!
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