The cost per Arizona student for the new test to measure progress under Common Core is nearly 50 percent more than the AIMS test.
The Arizona Capitol Times reports (http://bit.ly/170KIvn) that the cost is causing sticker shock among some lawmakers and advocates for the learning standards.
This week, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers announced, after years of developing the test, it will cost $29.50 per student. Arizona paid $18 to $20 per student, depending on the grade, to give the AIMS test to 750 students in the 2012-13 school year.
Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman, who chairs the House Committee on Education, said the per-student increase will make the test unaffordable when multiplied by the number of students who will be taking it.
"The state I don't believe could afford that kind of accelerated cost on assessments," Goodale said.
The cost to test with PARCC would be between $7.1 million and $8.6 million more, assuming the same number of students who took AIMS last year take the new test.
The Department of Education is going full-steam ahead in implementing the new test. The cost came in lower than the department anticipated, and staff is now preparing a decision proposal for the governor's office.
"It's somewhat of a relief, it's still high, but it's somewhat lower than what we were bracing ourselves for," said Leila Williams, who is overseeing the implementation of the new test. "There's not a discussion yet to abandon it."
Williams' boss, Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal, a Chandler Republican, serves on the PARCC governing board.
Andrew Wilder, spokesman for Gov. Jan Brewer, said in an email that replacing AIMS with a more accurate and meaningful test has been a key pillar in her Education Reform Plan.
Brewer is considering the costs and benefits as she develops her spending priorities.
Any new test will have to be vetted through the procurement process.
Goodale said the discussion will now have to be about looking for alternatives.
"Those dialogues will start now that we have some concrete figures we can deal with," Goodale said. "We do have alternatives. We will do everything we can to seek alternatives for the assessment tool."