Maryland schools need to make $100 million in technological and other upgrades to give new state tests aligned with Common Core standards next year.
The issues facing schools around the state vary from schools needing to shut down some of the normal uses of the computers – such as email – while other districts need to buy thousands of new computers to simply administer the tests, which are required to start in spring of 2015.
State lawmakers were briefed last week following a report from the Maryland State Department of Education outlining the challenges and costs of getting up to standard.
“Some of the data that they showed us raises some concerns,” said Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, a Prince George’s County Democrat and member of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, told The Baltimore Sun.
Pinsky said he is concerned some districts are reporting the need for up to 15,000 more devices, as in Harford County, and millions of dollars in upgrades they will have to pay for out of their budgets.
“I just want to be sure that we’re prepared,” he said. “If not, we might need to look at slowing down. You don’t jam this down a local jurisdiction’s throat when they’re not ready for it.”
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an education initiative in the United States that details what K-12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade.
The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and seeks to establish consistent education standards across the states as well as ensure students graduating from high school are prepared to go onto two- or four-year college programs or enter the workforce.
Cheryl Bost, vice president of the Maryland State Education Association, which represents most teachers in the state, told The Baltimore Sun she believes there is still debate about whether the state should put so much money into testing.
“We support the Common Core, but this is taking a huge chunk of money away from implementation and going straight to testing,” she said.