The State of State Standards Post-Common Core

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Eight years ago, we compared states’ English language arts (ELA) and mathematics standards to what were then the newly-minted Common Core State Standards. That report found that the Common Core was clearer and more rigorous than the ELA standards in thirty-seven states and stronger than the math standards in thirty-nine states.

While many states have, to varying degrees, revised their standards since 2010, the questions that should concern policymakers and the public haven’t changed: Are states’ ELA and math standards of sufficient quality and rigor to drive effective instruction? And if not, how might they be improved?

Unlike our previous reports, The State of State Standards Post-Common Core does not formally review standards in all fifty states. Instead, it focuses on those that have made the most substantive changes to the Common Core, or that never adopted them in the first place. By taking a close look at these states, plus a fresh look at the Core, we identify ideas that are worthy of broader adoption, as well as major mistakes that states should avoid.

The standards reviews that are the basis for the final report were conducted by two teams of highly-respected subject-matter experts—one for ELA and one for math—with deep knowledge of the content standards in their respective fields. Below is a summary of the results of those reviews:

No set of ELA standards received a perfect score, though the Common Core earned a 9 out of 10 (see Table 1), reflecting the consensus among reviewers that they are a “strong” set of standards that states can and should continue to implement.

  • Our reviewers also rated seven states’ ELA standards “good,” and worthy of implementation with “targeted” revisions: Indiana, Kansas, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
  • In contrast, five states were deemed to have “weak” standards—Arizona, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas—that should be significantly revised before schools devote more effort to their implementation.
  • Finally, two states, Missouri and Virginia, have “inadequate” ELA standards that should be completely overhauled.

As with ELA, no set of math standards received a perfect score. However, both the Common Core and Texas’s standards earned a 9 out of 10, reflecting (again) the consensus among reviewers that they are “strong” and worthy of implementation.

  • Another three states—Indiana, Tennessee, and Virginia—have math standards that were rated “good,” and worth implementing with “targeted” revisions.
  • In contrast, five states’ math standards were deemed “weak,” meaning they should not be implemented without “significant” revisions: Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.  
  • Finally, one state, Pennsylvania, has “inadequate” math standards that need to be completely re-written.

Specific recommendations for all of these states, as well as broader guidance for the majority of states that have kept the Common Core and a detailed discussion of recent trends in ELA and math standards, can be found in the report. Read it now.

Table 1. State Standards Summary

ELA Overall Rating Math Overall Rating
Common Core ELA Strong Common Core Math Strong
Indiana Good Texas Strong
Kansas Good Indiana Good
New York Good Tennessee Good
North Carolina Good Virginia Good
Oklahoma Good Minnesota Weak
Pennsylvania Good North Carolina Weak
West Virginia Good Missouri Weak
Arizona Weak Nebraska Weak
South Carolina Weak Oklahoma Weak
Texas Weak Pennsylvania Inadequate
Nebraska Weak    
Tennessee Weak    
Missouri Inadequate    
Virginia Inadequate    



August 22, 2018
Foreword & Executive Summary
August 22, 2018
State Reviews: ELA & Mathematics