A.J. Wagner, Ohio B.O.E. Member, Writes to the Senate Advisory Committee on Testing

testing costs thinking capAnother letter to the Senate Advisory Committee on Testing:

Dear Senator Lehner and Committee Members,

Please forgive me for pestering you with, yet, another concern relative to testing. As I was listening to Dr. Ross comment at the Board of Education meeting yesterday it occurred to me that cost should be a consideration in testing. How much bang for the buck are we getting in Ohio?

I did some very crude calculations to come up with a few figures. I’ll show my work if it fits in this comment space. If not, I may have to remove it and risk a lesser grade. First, there is the cost of PARCC at almost $30 for approximately 1.6 million students. In round figures, that’s about $50 million. Each teacher is now spending 4% to 8% of their time on testing with about 40% of that time dedicated to federally mandated exams (PARCC). There are about 108,000 teachers in Ohio and I crudely estimate, 85,000 of them teach grades 3 – 12. The average pay with benefits for a teacher in Ohio exceeds $60,000.

So, 85,000 teachers at $60,000 is a payroll of $5.1 billion. Apply that to 4% of our teachers time and you’re at $204 million plus for testing. Separate out the 40% for PARCC and you get a little over $80 million.

That’s a total of $130 million before looking at administrative costs such as administrators, extra staff to monitor and read to IEP students, IT costs, general overhead and much more. This is a guess, but we could well be looking at $150 – $200 million in dollars. Then their’s the cost in lost education time for students.

My figures must be questioned as they are very crude. I am asking you to do the math yourselves. Determine the total cost of the exams and answer the question, “What’s our bang for the buck?” There will be no more Race to the Top Dollars to help us. Where does the money come from now?

Judge A.J. Wagner, Retired
Member, Ohio Board of Education
District 3


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