Thursday, December 6, 2012

Does knowing what our students learn justify the cost?

There is a report out from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings that analyzes what states' spend on K-12 assessment. The author states:

"We estimate that states nationwide spend upwards of roughly $1.7 billion on assessments each year. . ."

That is a lot of money.

Yet, in the big picture, the reports author says:

"This seemingly large number amounts to only one-quarter of one percent of annual K-12 education spending."

In Michigan, the author concludes that we spend just over $19 million dollars or about $23 a student.

In my district, if we received $23 a student more we would receive an extra $145,000. That would pay for the salary and benefits of just under four additional teachers.

So the question we must consider is whether the cost of assessment is justified by what we learn about our students?

We pay for buses, athletic teams, choirs, bands, and a host of other things in our district. Many of these things cost much more than what assessment costs us.

But assessment elicits an emotional reaction. The cost is too much! The information is not good! It takes time away from instruction.

My counter would be - how will we give parents and students the confidence they need to believe that their children are learning what they need to know if we do not have any external assessments?

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