"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, September 09, 2011

How to come up with $60 billion (or more) for education

Posted on: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/is-obamas-call-to-modernize-schools-really-necessary/2011/09/08/gIQANrLSDK_blog.html

President Obama proposed investing $30 billion for school repairs and renovations and another $30 billion to prevent teacher layoffs. There was no mention of an obvious means of saving money: Reduce testing and scrap plans to increase testing.

It is widely agreed that schools currently do too much testing, far more than is helpful or necessary, and the US Department of Education is planning to increase testing well beyond what we are doing now, all without any supporting evidence.

Test development, test revision, the time spent on test preparation, administration and scoring will cost billions. The new tests will all be administered on-line, and this will cost additional billions.

New York City schools are planning to spend about a half billion to "primarily pay for wiring and other behind-the-wall upgrades to city schools" (NY Times, March 30, 2011) so that students can take the computerized national standardized tests. Extrapolated to the entire country, this amounts to about $45 billion.

If we adopt the principle of only testing when it is helpful, this will save more than the $60 billion the president wants to invest in schools.

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