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New Resource from Alliance for Excellent Education Highlights Need for Common Standards and Assessments in All Fifty States

Press Release:

New Resource from Alliance for Excellent Education Highlights Need for Common Standards and Assessments in All Fifty States

New state profiles from the Alliance for Excellent Education offer evidence for why all states would benefit from adopting common standards and assessments in English language arts and math that result in all high school students graduating college and career ready.

“Zip codes might be great for sorting mail, but they should not determine the quality of a child’s education or success in the future workforce,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Under the current education system, expectations for students vary from state to state and even from school district to school district. With common standards and assessments, students can be confident that they will have the skills necessary to succeed after high school and compete with peers across the state line and across the ocean.”

During a time when many states face large budget deficits, there are significant financial benefits for moving toward common standards and assessments. Currently, states collectively spend $1.3 billion annually to develop, publish, administer, score, and report on tests. By working together to develop common assessments, states can improve test quality and save money—a huge priority for states in today’s tight budget environments.

Additionally, common state standards and assessments that are aligned with college and career readiness will help to prepare students for success after high school while helping to save states money that would normally be spent on college remediation. For example, if California’s high schools graduated all of their students ready for college, the state would save over $687.9 million a year in community college remediation costs and lost earnings; Illinois would save $210.2 million; and New York would save more than $192 million.

Common standards and assessments would also ease the transition for students who move from state to state. According to the profile on Texas, about 93,300 school-aged children moved to Texas from another state in 2006 while more than 61,000 moved from Texas to another state. But the largest states are not the only ones affected; in North Carolina, more than 50,000 students moved into the state from another state in 2006 while nearly 40,000 moved out.

In describing the need for common standards, the profiles analyze the gap between eighth-grade proficiency as measured by states’ tests and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the only national test in reading and math. Nationwide, the average gap between state- and NAEP-reported reading scores is 39 percentage points, although five states have gaps that are larger than 60 percentage points. The average gap in math is 30 percentage points, but four states have gaps that are larger than 50 percentage points.

In June 2009, the Common Core State Standards Initiative was launched with forty-eight states, the District of Columbia, and two territories coming together under the leadership of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to develop a common core of state K–12 English language arts and mathematics standards.

The Alliance’s common standards state profiles include information on whether a state is one of the forty-eight states whose governor and chief state school officer signed a Memorandum of Agreement to participate in developing the common core state standards. The profiles also note which entity in each state has formal adoption authority for standards and whether the state has plans to adopt common standards.

To help stakeholders understand how much progress their state has already made in moving toward college- and career-ready standards, the profile includes information on when the state last revised its math and English language arts standards. It also tells whether a state is one of thirty-one states to align its high school graduation standards with college and career expectations—an important step, but one that is short of the common core state standards, which are internationally benchmarked to top-performing nations and include grade-by-grade standards that align with the college- and career-ready standards.

The profiles also include two- and four-year college graduation rates and unemployment rates by education levels and information on the state’s teachers’ attitudes on the importance of improving academic standards by making them clearer, common across all states, and tougher based on a state-by-state survey released in 2010.

“Common standards cannot single‐handedly improve the quality of our nation’s education system,” Wise said, “but they can provide important goals for educators to ensure they are preparing students for success in college and the workforce.”

Common standards state profiles for every state are available at


The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit

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