Academic standards have become the foundation on which much of contemporary U.S. public education rests. They dictate the knowledge and skills that students are expected to master, grade by grade, and communicate those expectations to educators, parents, curriculum writers, and other stakeholders. When they’re inadequate, the entire education edifice is shaky—and student achievement is apt to be uneven and weak.
The truth is that some standards are far better than others and deserve to be celebrated, emulated, and implemented.
We at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute have been reviewing state standards for over twenty years, including for a recent analysis that revisits the Common Core and assesses the math and English language arts (ELA) standards of states that never adopted it, or that have significantly altered it. After completing their reviews, our teams of experts assigned each set of standards one of four ratings: strong, good, weak, or inadequate.
Unfortunately, our reviewers found that most states that changed the Common Core weakened their standards in the process. In contrast, the Common Core itself has weathered well. Both the math and English standards earned a “strong” score, as did Texas’s math standards. That should reassure the dozens of states that...