States that rushed to implement Common Core national standards are recovering from sticker shock after learning the price tag for the new tests are around double what their former, now scrapped, state tests were.

That’s what happens when you “pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Ben Velderman reports that Wisconsin is finding out the hard way how much it’s likely to cost taxpayers there to implement Common Core national standards: anywhere from $62.3 million to $256.1 million based on a required legislative fiscal analysis.

As Velderman quipped:

Lawmakers might have gotten a more precise answer from a Magic 8 Ball.

Part of the difficulty is quantifying what precisely local school districts will do to update curricula and teaching methods to align with the Common Core standards, or what materials, technology, and books they’ll decide to purchase. The state will pay over $12 million annually to administer assessments.

Maybe it would be cheaper to return to the previous state standards? Nope. At this point pulling out the Common Core national standards infrastructure could cost as much or more. Plus, because Wisconsin pocketed an accountability waiver from No Child Left Behind in exchange for adopting Common Core national standards, it cannot return to its previous standards, which the feds don’t deem “college and career ready.” If the state turned back now it could be back on the hook for achieving 100 percent student proficiency in reading and math.

Velderman aptly summed up:

To recap: Implementing Common Core might cost Wisconsin schools roughly a quarter billion dollars, but canceling Common Core might cost even more.

In the business world, this is known as a “lose-lose” situation.

Here’s the kicker: For all the expense and headaches caused by Common Core, nobody has any idea whether these new standards will improve student learning, or if they’ll fall flat like most other education fads. That’s because Common Core has never been field-tested anywhere in the U.S.

This Scylla and Charybdis moment is brought to you by a federal government that thinks it knows best about education, and state lawmakers who go along with it.