New State Academic Standards Are Said to Require $56 Million Outlay for City's Schools

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Correction Appended

It will cost about $56 million to buy new textbooks and other materials to help New York City public school students meet rigorous academic standards adopted by most states, city officials announced at a news conference on Thursday.

The costs are not unexpected, because the state signed on for the so-called Common Core standards in 2010. But they drew a round of scrutiny at a time of austere budgeting, particularly as the city is facing a possible decline in state and federal aid.

Even before the formal announcement, Merryl H. Tisch, the chancellor of the state's Board of Regents, said that though city school officials "can spend their money as they choose fit," the state was providing "free curriculum" online, at engageny.org, for interested educators and others.

Of the city's plan, she added, "I'm sure it's not inexpensive."

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the city teachers' union, issued a statement saying the costs of the new materials concerned him, and he questioned "how well they will actually match the Common Core standards, and whether the new curricula and their accompanying materials will be ready for the start of the new school year."

Adopted by 45 states, the Common Core sets a national benchmark for what students should learn in English and math. It does not detail all of the curriculums students should learn, but is intended to help them build skills for success.

From April 16 to 24, children in third through eighth grade across New York will take state standardized tests in English and math that, for the first time, are based on the Common Core standards. Such tests for high school students will begin next year.

For their part, city school officials said the $56 million would cover the costs of buying new English and math materials for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. As a point of comparison, they said the city had spent $13.3 million this year on new math and English materials and on books for classroom libraries.

The $56 million estimate is based on an expectation that 70 percent of schools will adopt the curriculums the city's Education Department is recommending, the officials said. They said that while downloading state curriculums was free, the costs of acquiring workbooks and texts would bring the cost close to the city's $56 million estimate.

The city will procure the materials through five vendors, including the state's vendor and Pearson, a British publishing and education company, said Shael Polakow-Suransky, the city's chief academic officer.

Mr. Polakow-Suransky and other city school officials emphasized that the money would come not only from city taxpayers, but also from a state fund that helps pay for textbooks.

The last adoption of new literacy and math curriculums was about a decade ago, city school officials said.

Correction: March 1, 2013, Friday

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article  misstated which students in New York State will be taking standardized tests based on the new Common Core standards in April. It is third- through eighth-graders, not kindergartners through eighth-graders.

education

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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