Standards-based reform has long been a policy priority at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. For more than fifteen years, we have rated state-based standards in history, science, English, and math, often repeatedly, as well as a number of national and international standards, assessment frameworks, and (in 2010) the Common Core.

No academic standards are perfect, but some are indisputably better than others. Our job at Fordham is to say which are sheep and which are goats (and which are race horses).

Lately, we’ve found ourselves drawn ever deeper into conversations—often better termed disputes or arguments—about the Common Core State Standards initiative, which our experts rated highly. As a generally right-of-center think tank, we’ve been particularly engaged in explaining why the Common Core—like rigorous standards, generally—are something conservatives should feel positively toward. Here’s a sampler of our recent explanations:

  • Innovation: Michael Petrilli uses an iPhone analogy to show how innovation could change the education reform reality.
  • Accountability: Upwards of four-fifths of young Utahans are rated “proficient” by their state, while the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows the number to be closer to one-third. The Common Core will bring a healthy dose of reality to the education-reform world, say Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Michael Petrilli in the Deseret News.
  • School choice: Kathleen Porter-Magee supports the Common Core because she believes that parents deserve a choice in education. Finn and Petrilli echo that sentiment in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Standards-based testing gives parents a common yardstick with which to judge schools and make informed choices.”
  • In South Carolina, Petrilli says that national standards are not the answer, but high standards are—and the Common Core are high standards. With Finn, he goes on to say that these standards are rigorous and “one might even say they are conservative.”
  • In the end, the facts matter, note Finn and Petrilli in the Kansas City Star. One can fairly hope that facts will prove dispositive in Kansas and other states.

Want more Fordham media coverage on Common Core? Check out “Debunking common anti-Common Core myths, one fact at a time.”

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