October 22, 2021

States’ Taxpayers Left to Pay for Common Core

States’ Taxpayers Left to Pay for Common Core

It will cost California $2.1 billion (net amount) to implement the Common Core Standards (CCS).  Where will California find $2.1 billion to implement the mediocre Common Core Standards? 

The net cost for Illinois is $691 million; and the net cost for Pennsylvania is $606 million.  The taxpayers in each state are left to pick up the expensive tab for the untested Common Core Standards.


The total nationwide cost for 7 years of the Common Core Standards Initiative is $15.8 billion!  This includes the cost to states of CCS Testing, Professional Development, Textbooks, and Technology.  (Other costs not shown in this report would be the cost to set up and administer a nationalized teacher evaluation system and a national student/educator database.)

The taxpayers in each of the 45 states (and D. C.) that have committed to the Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSI) will be left “holding the bag” because our federal government with a national debt of $17 trillion cannot come in and alleviate the cost to the states.

Because it will cost California $2.2 billion to implement the Common Core Standards but California only received $104 million ($0.1 billion) from the federal government for competitive Stimulus awards, the taxpayers of California will have to come up with $2.1 billion difference out of their state coffers.

With California on the brink of bankruptcy, where would their taxpayers find $2.1 billion?  (Please see Table 1 at the end of this report for a complete listing of CCS losses per state.)

Where would other states such as the ones listed below find the extra funding to implement the Common Core Standards? 

Illinois — $691 million

Pennsylvania — $606 million

Michigan — $569 million

The cost for CCS does not suddenly end at Year 7.  The ongoing cost for Year 8 and after will be $801 million per year.

The up-front, one-time cost for CCS implementation is two-thirds (67%) of the Total Cost for 7 years.

This report will focus primarily on the cost of implementing the Common Core Standards in each of the 46 states (45 states plus D.C.).

*A very helpful compilation of Anti-CCSI Resources has recently been posted at: 


Background on Common Core Standards and RTTT

Picture this scenario: You are the CEO of a large company.  An outside company offered your company an incentive to persuade you to convert to their system.  Would you change the main system in your company if you knew it would cost more money to convert than the amount of the incentive? 

That is what 45 states (and the District of Columbia) did in adopting the Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSI).  Under the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program (RTTT), states competed for $4.35 Billion in federal grants. 

In exchange for the potential funds, states had to drop their own state education standards and adopt the Common Core Standards Initiative  (a.k.a., CCS) — nationalized curriculum standards, nationalized curriculum, nationalized assessments, a nationalized teacher evaluation system, and a nationalized database.  

Under the $787 billion Stimulus measure, money was set aside for RTTT funding.  About $3.9 billion was awarded in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of RTTT in 2010; since then, an additional $1.5 billion has been granted.  This brings the total competitive awards to $5.4 billion.

Cost to Implement CCS

How about the costs?  One reliable estimate places the nationwide cost of implementing CCS at $15.8 billion. 

As a block, the states will spend $16 billion and get $5 billion in federal grants.  Why would the states change to a system that costs several times what they will receive in return?  That does not sound like a very good deal to me. 

When the states were competing for those coveted federal dollars, they were not calculating realistic costs for the conversion.  Theodor Rebarber, CEO and founder of AccountabilityWorks, explained: “States did almost no costs analysis” when they signed on to adopt the Common Core standards.  They sorely needed the money and viewed CCS through the proverbial “rose-colored glasses.” 

If the RTTT grant money were the chief reason that states adopted the Common Core Standards Initiative (the nationalization of the public schools), would they drop out of CCS if the conversion costs were significantly higher than the RTTT funds received from the federal government?  That is a good question.

This report will cover the federal RTTT awards; however, the major emphasis will be on the cost side of the equation.  I think many states will “get off the national standards train” once the real costs are known.

When I was searching for reliable cost estimates on implementing the Common Core Standards, I found an excellent White Paper report published by the Pioneer Institute entitled National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards by AccountabilityWorks, No. 82 – February 2012.


My report is based almost entirely on this outstanding Pioneer Institute White Paper.

Quality of the Standards

I think it is obvious that the potential RTTT award money was the chief reason that the states gave up their own state standards and adopted the Common Core Standards (CCS). 

People might try to argue that the national standards are an improvement over the states’ standards.  Numerous education experts certainly do not think the Common Core Standards are an improvement over the state standards.

The Pioneer Institute recently published a report by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky, “Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare High School Students for STEM.”


Both Dr. Milgram and Dr. Stotsky were on the Common Core Validation Committee.  Because the standards were so deficient, both education experts refused to validate the Common Core Standards.

The Pioneer report concludes by offering these chilling indictments:

          At this time we can conclude only that a gigantic fraud has been perpetrated on this country, in particular on parents in this country, by those developing, promoting, or endorsing Common Core’s standards. We have no illusion that the college-readiness level in ELA will be any more demanding than Common Core’s college-readiness level in mathematics.


Texas wisely shunned the national standards movement and devoted considerable energy into writing its own standards.  The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) adopted excellent standards documents several years ago for English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR), Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics.  Many experts deem these four standards documents to be the best in the country!


Education expert Donna Garner has been using this graphic for about five years to illustrate the inter-relationship of the various parts.  This is the way that the Common Core Standards and Race to the Top work.  [The arrows mean “lead to.”]

National standards  →  national assessments  →  national curriculum → teachers’ salaries tied to students’ test scores  →  teachers teaching to the test each and every day  →  national indoctrination of our public school children  →  national database of students and teachers

How can the Obama administration take over the control of our nation’s public schools and impact the entire future of our nation?  It is easy.  All his administration has to do is to pressure teachers to teach each and every day whatever is on the national assessments that are tied to the national curriculum that is tied to the national standards. 

On 9.2.10, the U. S. Department of Education (USDOE) awarded $160 million to the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) to develop assessments tied to the Common Core Standards for 31 states.  On 9.2.10, the USDOE awarded $170 million to Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC, or Partnership) to develop assessments linked to the Common Core Standards for 26 states.

In a 1.24.14 article in USA Today, “Some states get cold feet as Common Core testing draws near,” Adrienne Lu wrote:

But as controversy over the Common Core has challenged some states’ commitment to the standards, a number of states have decided to withdraw from PARCC or Smarter Balanced or to use alternative tests, raising questions about the cost of the tests and the long-term viability of the multistate testing groups, which received $360 million in federal grants to develop the tests. The federal grants will end this fall, and it is unclear whether the testing groups will continue past that point.


Numerous states have withdrawn from the assessment consortia.  Similarly, legislators in many states have passed legislation that will fight or stop the Common Core in their states.

States that Have Pulled Out of their Assessment Consortia

Alabama  Yes  Yes
Alaska  Yes
Florida  Yes
Georgia  Yes
Indiana  Yes
Kansas  Yes
Oklahoma  Yes
Pennsylvania  Yes  Yes
Utah  Yes

PARCC — Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers

SBAC — SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium

Pioneer Institute White Paper Report

National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards, A Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project White Paper, No. 82 – February 2012.


The Pioneer white paper provides a thorough analysis of the cost of implementing the Common Core Standards.  The report states: 

          The goal of this analysis  was to develop a ‘middle of the road’ estimate of the ‘incremental’ (i.e., additional) cost of implementing the Common Core standards based, as much as possible, on actual state or local experience implementing similar initiatives.

Please note that the Pioneer Institute report gives the incremental or additional expenses borne by the states for implementing CCS during the 7-year period.

I strongly urge the readers to study the Pioneer Institute report.  Also, a wealth of information is included in the Appendices to the Pioneer white paper.  The Appendices provide enrollment numbers and detailed cost breakdowns for every state. 


Analysis of the Pioneer CCS Information

My goal has been to utilize the research done by the Pioneer Institute but to go one step further by calculating (1) the cost for each CCS category in each state, and (2) the total CCS cost for each state.

The Pioneer Institute white paper includes costs for four categories: Testing, Professional Development, Textbooks, and Technology.  The Appendices to the Pioneer Institute report provide dollar figures for Textbooks and Technology for each state.  I derived the Testing costs and Professional Development costs for each state from the Pioneer white paper Figure 2B and the Pioneer report’s assumptions.


Highlights from Common Core Tables

CCS Loss Per State  (Please refer to Table 1)

1.  California will lose $2,084 million ($2.084 billion) on CCS implementation.  (Translation: California taxpayers will have to take $2.1 billion from their state coffers to pay for CCS.)

2.  Illinois will lose $691 million on CCS implementation.

(Translation: Illinois taxpayers will have to take $691 million out of their state coffers to pay for CCS.)

3.  Pennsylvania will lose $606 million on CCS implementation.

4.  Michigan will lose $569 million on CCS implementation.

5.  New Jersey will lose $526 million on CCS implementation.

6.  Indiana will lose $387 million on CCS implementation.

7.  Arizona will lose $324 million on CCS implementation.

8.  Missouri will lose $336 million on CCS implementation.

9.  Washington will lose $331 million on CCS implementation.

10.  Wisconsin will lose $313 million on CCS implementation.

Total CCS Cost (Please refer to Table 2)

1.  The Total Cost for the 46 CCS states is $15,834.717 million ($15.834 billion).

2.  The Total Testing Cost for the 46 CCS States is $1,240.641 million.

3.  The Total Professional Development Cost is $5,257.089 million.

4.  The Total Textbook Cost is $2,469.098 million.

5.  The Total Technology Cost is $6,867.889 million.

6.  Category Costs are listed for each state.  For example, the costs for Alabama are as follows:  Testing Cost = $22.225 million; Professional Development Cost = $91.707 million; Textbook Cost = $44.643 million; Technology Cost = $123.118 million; and Total Cost = $281.693 million.


The main reason that the states gave up their standards and adopted the Common Core Standards was the potential money offered under the Race to the Top program.  Unfortunately, that federal ploy of the “carrot and stick” has worked wonderfully; 45 states (plus D. C.) have signed on to the national standards.

The quality of the national standards is questionable and unproven.  The Common Core Standards have not been piloted under controlled research conditions and have not been internationally benchmarked.  No one knows whether or not students will actually increase their academic achievement by being taught the CCS. 

The 45 states (and D. C.) committed to adopt the CCS before the standards documents (English and Math) were even completed and made public.  Several states blindly dropped their stellar standards in favor of the mediocre national standards.

The Pioneer Institute published a commendable breakdown of the cost to implement CCS.  

I expanded upon Pioneer’s work to produce detailed CCS costs for every state.

Most states will lose money when they fully implement the national standards in their state.

California stands to lose a whopping $2.1 billion on CCS!  Illinois will lose $691 million; and Pennsylvania will lose $606 million.  Those states’ taxpayers will have to make up for the differences from their state coffers.

The decision by these 45 states (and D. C.) to adopt CCS will be terribly expensive indeed!

The Conclusion to the Pioneer Institute white paper provides these insights:

          While a handful of states have begun to analyze these costs, most states have signed on to the initiative without a thorough, public vetting of the costs and benefits.

In particular, there has been very little attention to the potential technology infrastructure costs that currently cash-strapped districts may face in order to implement the Common Core assessments within a reasonable testing window.

I believe that when the states become aware of the high cost of implementing the Common Core Standards, they will seriously want to consider their options.  If a state is truly concerned about protecting the taxpayers, the state will opt out of the costly national standards.


Table 1– CCS Loss Per State

($ Millions)     

The following table (in millions of dollars) shows the difference between the amount of RTTT grant funds a state received and the total cost of implementation of CCS.  The states with the plus signs have a “gain” on cost minus awards.  All of the other states have a loss and will have to make up the difference out of their state coffers.






State Loss(Cost – Awards)

(+ = Gain)


ALAlabama     281.693       0     281.693
AZArizona     374.704     50.344     324.360
ARArkansas     193.529       9.833     183.696
CACalifornia  2,188.494   104.208  2,084.286
COColorado     304.494     91.725     212.769
CTConnecticut     226.215       4.473     221.742
DEDelaware       48.892   119.122    + 70.230
DCDistr. of Columbia       29.331   105.253    + 75.922
FLFlorida  1,024.163   719.975     304.188
GAGeorgia     646.622   404.691     241.931
HIHawaii       67.556     74.935      + 7.379
IDIdaho       99.246       3.700       95.546
ILIllinois     799.021   108.429     690.592
INIndiana     386.623       0     386.623
IAIowa     192.565       9.035     183.530
KSKansas     185.515     11.180     174.335
KYKentucky     256.754     22.036     234.718
LALouisiana     270.086     47.515     222.571
MEMaine       79.189       7.315       71.874
MDMaryland     327.234   334.284      + 7.050
MAMassachusetts     377.294   310.588       66.706
MIMichigan     591.593     22.730     568.863
MSMississippi     187.300       7.570     179.730
MOMissouri     362.058     26.531     335.527
MTMontana       56.208       0.520       55.688
NVNevada     151.051       0     151.051
NHNew Hampshire       79.715       0       79.715
NJNew Jersey     563.657     37.848     525.809
NMNew Mexico     128.751     10.727     118.024
NYNew York  1,088.436   845.659     242.777
NCNorth Carolina     576.903   427.081     149.822
NDNorth Dakota       40.281       0       40.281
OHOhio     662.048   468.320     193.728
OKOklahoma     246.387     15.466     230.921
OROregon     201.964     19.937     182.027
PAPennsylvania     705.985   100.164     605.821
RIRhode Island       58.883     75.000    + 16.117
SCSouth Carolina     273.045     22.122     250.923
SDSouth Dakota       49.301     19.684       29.617
TNTennessee     373.326   518.492  + 145.166
UTUtah     196.306     24.900     171.406
VTVermont       39.995       0       39.995
WAWashington     365.092     34.330     330.762
WVWest Virginia     109.957       0     109.957
WIWisconsin     331.092     17.952     313.140
WYWyoming       36.163       0       36.163

Table 2 — Total CCS Cost

($ Millions)

The column that is particularly significant is the far-right column — Total Cost. This is the Total Cost (in millions of dollars) that each state will have to bear to implement the CCS.



Prof. Dev.Cost






Total Cost


AL     22.225      91.707      44.643    123.118     281.693
AZ     31.982    100.310      64.482    177.930     374.704
AR     14.247      71.910      28.151      79.221     193.529
CA   185.690    605.938    374.295 1,022.571  2,188.494
CO     24.702      94.735      48.476    136.581     304.494
CT     16.737      84.178      33.132      92.168     226.215
DE       3.763      16.684        7.608      20.837       48.892
DC       2.047      12.300        3.647      11.337       29.331
FL     78.184    354.970    155.810    435.199  1,024.163
GA     49.492    223.838      97.932    275.360     646.622
HI       5.342      22.021      10.784      29.409       67.556
ID       8.200      29.353      16.515      45.178       99.246
IL     62.445    267.411    121.910    347.255     799.021
IN     31.062    120.220      62.427    172.914     386.623
IA     14.596      69.211      28.483      80.275     192.565
KS     13.950      67.006      27.758      76.801     185.515
KY     20.172      85.680      39.328    111.574     256.754
LA     20.504      95.866      39.771    113.945     270.086
ME       5.616      31.427      11.221      30.925       79.189
MD     25.178    112.452      49.594    140.010     327.234
MA     28.378    134.994      56.056    157.866     377.294
MI     48.496    178.986      97.181    266.930     591.593
MS     14.377      63.922      28.961      80.040     187.300
MO     27.243    130.914      53.930    149.971     362.058
MT       4.208      20.316        8.502      23.182       56.208
NV     12.716      42.683      25.557      70.095     151.051
NH       5.850      29.913      11.717      32.235       79.715
NJ     39.909    222.544      79.168    222.036     563.657
NM       9.924      43.880      19.729      55.218     128.751
NY     78.650    414.787    157.198    437.801  1,088.436
NC     44.007    202.844      87.607    242.445     576.903
ND       2.821      16.155        5.689      15.616       40.281
OH     52.359    215.071    104.702    289.916     662.048
OK     19.382      82.411      37.024    107.570     246.387
OR     17.297      55.518      33.932      95.217     201.964
PA     52.929    252.930    106.979    293.147     705.985
RI       4.307      21.946        8.655      23.975       58.883
SC     21.461      90.718      42.110    118.756     273.045
SD       3.671      18.009        7.409      20.212       49.301
TN     28.862    126.212      57.696    160.556     373.326
UT     17.295      49.190      34.563      95.258     196.306
VT       2.743      16.865        5.302      15.085       39.995
WA     30.726    103.208      61.909    169.249     365.092
WV       8.389      39.197      16.233      46.138     109.957
WI     25.891    112.821      50.023    142.357     331.092
WY       2.616      13.838        5.299      14.410       36.163
Totals1,240.641 5,257.089 2,469.098 6,867.88915,834.717

Notes on Table 2:

1.  Testing — The Testing cost for each state was determined by multiplying the number of students in the state by $29.6768 per student.  My total Testing cost of $1,240.641 million is identical to Pioneer’s Figure 2B.

2.  Professional Development — The Professional Development cost for each state was determined by multiplying the number of teachers in the state by $1,931 per teacher.  My total cost for Professional Development is consistent with the total number of teachers in the 46 CCS states (2,722,470 teachers).  My total Professional Development cost of $5,257.089 million is slightly under the amount in Pioneer Figure 2B. 

3.  Textbooks — The Textbook costs for each state were taken directly from the Pioneer report Appendix.  My total Textbook cost of $2,469.098 million is identical to Pioneer Figure 2B.

4.  Technology — The Technology costs for each state were obtained directly from the Pioneer Appendix.  My total Technology cost of $6,867.889 million is identical to Pioneer Figure 2B. 

[NOTE: This is a shorter version of a comprehensive report.  To obtain the full report, “States’ Taxpayers and the Common Core Standards,” please contact the author at hwburke@cox.net  .]


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 company. 

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