Wisconsin standardize test prices increase by millions

Testing will costs $7 million more than initial estimate

The Department of Public Instruction is asking Wisconsin for $36 million to administer Common Core State Standards tests over the next two years. That’s $7 million more than what was already set aside for the exams. There is a lot of speculation over where the additional funding will come from.

Local school administrators said the increased cost isn’t expected to come from their budget because standardized testing is paid for at the state level.
For nine years now Abby Turgeon has taught in the Onalaska School District. More recently her fifth-grade lessons at Irving Pertzsch Elementary have changed.

“Onalaska adopted the Common Core initiative pretty early,” Turgeon said. “We started working on the standards three years ago.”

Whether it’s English/ Language Arts or math, Turgeon makes sure her students are meeting the Common Core Standards they will be tested on this spring.

“It’s not just if students can repeat or recite something,” Turgeon said. “Can they compare it? Can they think deeply about it?”

While Ms. Turgeon’s students are hopefully ready for testing, the Department of Instruction’s budget is not. Officials are asking the state for more than $3 million extra during the 2015-2016 and the 2016-2017 school years to cover testing costs. Price hikes are being blamed on start-up costs.

“They were just anticipating the costs to be a certain price and now it’s more,” Onalaska School District Superintendent Fran Finco said. “Everything goes up.”

Finco is interested to see who foots the bill.

“If the assessment is going to cost more money where is that going to come from? Are they going to take it out of the pot they are currently giving us so then there is not going to be money for something else? Or are they going to give us that money over and above,?” Finco said.

While he suspects the money will come from the state rather than his school budget, he said he is just focusing on the upcoming tests.

“We know that our kids are going to take the Badger exam in the spring, we just don’t know how much it is going to cost,” Finco said.

Under the new estimates cost of exam per student has risen from $26 to about $33. That price is expected to go down slightly in the 2016-2017 school year.