Costs of Assessment Development

One of the missing pieces of the cost comparison between the Smarter Balanced assessments and the Next Generation Iowa Assessments was the cost of required science assessments. The Next Generation Iowa Assessments include a science assessment, the Smarter Balanced assessments do not. If Iowa does not elect to use an off-the-shelf science assessment (NGIA or ACT Aspire, for example), we will likely to have to pay for the costs of assessment development.

How much it will it cost Iowa to develop a science assessment? A lot, but it’s hard to say exactly how much. In part, because it will depend upon whether Iowa works with other NGSS states to share the costs, and in part, because, as far as I can tell, it’s hard to find information about just how much states are paying for assessment development.

Here are a few numbers I’ve found:

SBAC spent $176 million developing the Smarter Balanced assessments. This amounts to $88 million per subject or $25 million per grade level.

Florida reports development costs for the 2008 FCAT assessments (reading, math, writing, and science) of almost $21 million.

Massachusetts reports a $146 million, five-year contract (2009-2014) for the MCAS but costs include administration, scoring, and reporting in addition to development. This works out to about $29 million per year.

California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction is to report to the California State Board of Education, no later than March 1, 2016, about cost estimates for developing a science assessment.

If anyone has better numbers, please share in the comments.