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What Teachers Want to Know: When Will Testing Company Employees Get Laid Off?

Everyone has to feel the pain of budget cuts—except the companies being paid millions to make standardized tests.


This spring, school districts across the nation sent record numbers of layoff notices to teachers, all in the name of balancing education budgets. But, there's one area that most states and districts aren't cutting—the cost of standardized tests. States and local school districts pay testing companies millions of dollars annually, and with calls to evaluate teachers according to tests results and expand the number of subjects tested coming from the White House and Department of Education, the amount of cash being shelled out to testing companies is sure to skyrocket.

Here's how it works: In order to be compliant with the federal No Child Left Behind Act—which requires student testing—states first pay consultants and testing companies to write multiple choice tests aligned with individual state standards. Once kids take the tests, the states then pay those same companies to score them. The federal government does kicks in some cash to help cover the costs, but thanks to cutbacks, that money doesn't defray the whole expense or pay for the people districts and states hire to manage the entire process.

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California Budget a Mixed Bag for Public Education

K-12 education is spared—for now. It's another story for the state's public colleges and universities.


California's newly inaugurated governor, Jerry Brown, just released his proposed budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year, and it has both good and bad news for education. The good news? Brown says he won't slash any more funding from the state's already decimated K-12 education coffers. The bad? The state's community college and university system is about to feel the pain.

Over the past three years, K-12 schools have borne the brunt of California's education cuts. In a welcome change, Brown's budget "maintains funding at the same level as the current year." But, if the state's voters don't approve tax extensions, K-12 cuts will be back on the table later this spring.

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California Declares Education Budget "Financial Emergency"

With more budget cuts on the horizon, schools in the Golden State are set for fiscal annihilation.


Just how dire is the Golden State's education budget? The new Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, has declared a state of "financial emergency" for California's schools—and when you look at the numbers, he's not just blowing political smoke.

"There’s simply no other way to describe it: this is an emergency," Torlakson said. "Every day, teachers, school employees, and principals are performing miracles, but the $18 billion in cuts over the last three years are taking their toll. We have 174 districts teetering on the financial brink. If this isn’t an emergency, I don’t know what is."

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