South Carolina Common Core Implementation Costs
Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 07:54PM
City On A Hill in South Carolina Common Core Implementation Costs, South Carolina Common Core Standards

South Carolina Common Core Implementation Costs


by Henry W. Burke







It will cost South Carolina $251 million (net amount) to implement the Common Core Standards (CCS).  Where will South Carolina find $251 million to implement the mediocre Common Core Standards?   




I will call your attention to an excellent Pioneer Institute report, "National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards," dated February 2012 (PI report) and my report, "States' Taxpayers Cannot Afford Common Core Standards," by Henry W. Burke, dated 10.15.12 (Burke report).  These are the links to the reports:





I also wrote a companion report applicable to the states that did not adopt the Common Core Standards, "Non-Common Core States Will Save Millions of Dollars," by Henry W. Burke, 10.18.12:




South Carolina gave up good state standards to adopt the mediocre Common Core Standards.  According to a 2010 Fordham Institute report that compared the state standards with the Common Core Standards, South Carolina had "Clearly Inferior" English Language Arts (ELA) standards and Mathematics standards. 



I encourage you to realistically evaluate the costs versus the benefits for the State of South Carolina.  I will focus only on the cost of implementing the Common Core Standards (CCS) versus the dollar awards received from the federal government. 



I thought I would offer a little insight into the CCS implementation costs.  This explanation includes the Pioneer report figures and my assumptions.  Obviously, I cannot speak for the Pioneer Institute nor its partners in the white paper, Accountability Works and Pacific Research Institute.  These are strictly my thoughts, assumptions and calculations.



The Pioneer Institute report identified four cost categories for CCS implementation.  The categories are: Testing, Professional Development, Textbooks, and Technology.  Pioneer calculated the total CCS implementation cost over a 7-year time period. 



The PI report included bar graphs (without dollar figures) for each state in Professional Development, Textbooks, and Technology.  The Appendices to the PI report showed exact dollar figures for each state in only the Textbooks and Technology categories.  This is the link to the Pioneer Institute Appendices:



Consequently, I had to derive figures for Testing and Professional Development for each of the 46 states.  My goal was to duplicate the Pioneer figures as closely as possible.  My nationwide totals for the four categories agree quite closely with the Pioneer Institute report. 




A.  South Carolina CCS Loss



The State of South Carolina submitted a proposal to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Race to the Top (RTTT) program and received a rank of No. 6 in Phase 1 and a rank of No. 14 in Phase 2 of that competition.  The 12 "winning" states under Phase 1 and Phase 2 of RTTT received a total of $3.94 billion.  South Carolina did not receive any funds under the Phase 1 and 2 competition.  In subsequent competitions, South Carolina received $22,121,832 ($22.122 million) for competitive stimulus awards.



In the Burke Table 1, CCS Loss Per State, the CCS Total Cost for South Carolina is $273.045 million; and the federal competitive award total is $22.122 million.  The difference is $250.923 million.

[$273.045 million - $22.122 million = $250.923 million]



This means South Carolina will have to find $251 million to pay for the implementation expense of CCS.





B.  South Carolina CCS Cost



In the Burke Table 2, CCS Cost Per Student, we can see that South Carolina has a CCS Cost per Student of $378.  This is essentially identical to the average cost per student of $379 (average cost for the 46 CCS states).



Table 3, Total CCS Cost, lists the components making up the Total CCS Cost of $273.045 million for South Carolina.  Testing cost is $21.461 million; Professional Development cost is $90.718 million; Textbook cost is $42.110 million; and Technology cost is $118.756 million.



In round numbers, South Carolina will spend $21 million on Testing, $91 million on Professional Development, $42 million on Textbooks, and $119 million on Technology.  The Total CCS Cost for South Carolina will be $273 million.




Explanation of Figures


1.  Testing


a.  Nationwide CCS Testing Cost


Testing is a function of the number of students tested.  Table 5 in my report shows the Total Nationwide Cost for the 46 CCS states.  My Table 5 duplicates Pioneer Figure 2B (on page 2 of the PI report).  Figure 2B shows a Total Testing Cost of $1,240,641,297. 



Table 6 (Burke report) lists the number of students and teachers in each of the 46 states; the total for the 46 states is 41,805,062 students.  I obtained all of the numbers in Table 6 from the Pioneer report Appendices (NCES: 2009 - 2010 School Year). 



When I divided $1,240,641,297 by 41,805,062 students, I obtained a factor of $29.67681993 per student.  This Testing cost factor was applied to each of the 46 states to get the Testing cost for each state.  My Total Testing Cost of $1,240.641 million agrees with the Pioneer Figure 2B number.



b.  South Carolina CCS Testing Cost


South Carolina has a total student enrollment of 723,143 students (Burke Table 6).  When I multiplied 723,143 students by the $29.6768 factor per student, I obtained $21.461 million.

[723,143 students  x  $29.67681993 per student = $21,460,585]




2.  Professional Development


The purpose of Professional Development is to train the teachers on the new Common Core academic standards.  Professional Development is a function of the number of teachers that must be trained.  Pioneer used a Professional Development cost of $1,931 per teacher.



South Carolina has 46,980 teachers (Burke Table 6).  When I multiplied 46,980 teachers by $1,931 per teacher, I obtained $90.718 million.

[46,980 teachers  x  $1,931 per teacher = $90,718,380]



[Incidentally, my calculations produced a Professional Development Cost for California of $605.938 million.  The PI report bar graph showed the number $606 million for California.  This verifies that my calculation assumptions and methodology are correct.]




3.  Textbooks


I obtained the Textbook cost for South Carolina directly from the Pioneer Institute Appendix.  The Table in the Appendix showed a Total Textbook Cost for South Carolina of $42,109,536 ($42.110 million).



The PI Appendix listed the following numbers for Textbooks and Instructional Materials:




South Carolina Textbook Cost

(Millions of Dollars)




Textbook Cost

($ Millions)















  Subtotal -- K - 6










  Subtotal -- 7 - 9










  Subtotal -- 10 - 12




    Total -- K - 12






4.  Technology


I obtained the Technology cost for South Carolina directly from the Pioneer Appendix.  The PI Appendix lists the Total Technology Cost for South Carolina as $118,756,533 ($118.756 million).



The PI Appendix provides the following information:




South Carolina Technology Cost 

(Millions of Dollars)






($ Millions)




($ Millions)

One-Time Costs



Year 1 Operations



Years 2 - 7 Operations (Annual)



Total for 6 Years (Years 2 - 7)



    Total Technology Cost








C.  Urgency of Decision


We know that the total cost to implement CCS in South Carolina will be $273.045 million ($273 million), but we have not said anything about the timing.  The timing for the expenditures is extremely important!



A sizeable portion of the total CCS implementation cost is spent early in the process.  In the Pioneer Report Figure 2B, two-thirds (about 66 %) of the Total Cost falls into the up-front, one-time cost period.  Pioneer shows a one-time cost of $10,522,885,028; the Total Cost is $15,835,121,347.  When I divide these two numbers, I get 66 %.



For South Carolina, the figures are as follows:




Timing of South Carolina CCS Costs

(Millions of Dollars)



Cost Category


One-Time Cost

 ($ Millions)

Years 1 - 7


($ Millions)

Total Cost --

Up-Front &

for 7 Years

($ Millions)





Professional Development












    Total Cost




    Percentage of Total

    66 %

     34 %

    100 %




As this table shows, 66 % of the total cost ($181.198 million) is incurred as an up-front, one-time cost.  If South Carolina has any interest in dropping the CCS, the state should act very soon.  Much of the CCS implementation expense (66 %) hits very early in the process.  If the state delays the decision to drop CCS, it could waste $181 million on a system that it is not going to use.  The decision is urgent!






Please contact me if you would like copies of my two reports.







Bio for Henry W. Burke



Henry Burke is a Civil Engineer  with a B.S.C.E. and M.S.C.E.  He has been a Registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) for 37 years and has worked as a Civil Engineer in construction for over 40 years.


Mr. Burke had a successful 27-year career with a large construction contractor. 


Henry Burke serves as a full-time volunteer to oversee various construction projects. He has written numerous articles on education, engineering, construction, politics, taxes, and the economy.



Henry W. Burke


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