New Report Shows States Taking Lead on Developing Rigorous, Common Core Standards

Wednesday, July 30, 2008Printer-friendly version


Sandy Boyd, Achieve, (202) 419-1542,

WASHINGTON – July 31, 2008 – A new report released today by Achieve shows that individual state efforts to set college- and career-ready standards for high school graduates have actually led to a remarkable degree of consistency in English and mathematics requirements. This “common core” is detailed in "Out of Many, One: Toward Rigorous Common Core Standards from the Ground Up."

The report tracks the voluntary standard-setting efforts in 16 early-adopter states, including Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas. Together, these states educate 38 percent of U.S. public school students. All of the states discussed in the report are members of Achieve's American Diploma Project (ADP) Network.

“States are leading the way in identifying and setting real-world standards for student success,” said Mike Cohen, president of Achieve. “A common core of college- and career-ready expectations in 16 states is a positive development. Rigorous state standards, anchored in real-world demands, are important because they can—and should—drive the rest of the education reform agenda.” Cohen went on to add, “This is not about national standards or the federal government, it’s about state leadership.”

Specifically, the report found that across the board:

  • States increased the rigor of their English and mathematics standards;
  • State standards have a clear, well-defined common core in English and mathematics; and
  • The common core was a byproduct of aligning standards to real-world demands.

“The common core that emerged from this work is no surprise. All graduates must have core knowledge and that core is not bound by state lines,” said Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who is vice chair of the Achieve Board. “Setting standards is not a one-time-only exercise, and we need to make sure our state standards are not only the best in the nation, but the best in the world.”

Governor Phil Bredesen of one of the early-adopter states discussed in the report, Tennessee, explained the importance of adopting college- and career-ready standards to his state. “Not only did this effort help us to raise the bar and increase the rigor of our English and math coursework in Tennessee, it spurred other key education reforms that will help guarantee our students better lives and ultimately enhance the future competitiveness of our state and nation.”

The leadership role that the report shows states have displayed in setting common English and math standards has implications for the role of the federal government in education policymaking and has the potential to change the way education issues are viewed at the state and national levels.

Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, stated, “As this report shows, a state-led effort is the fastest, most effective way to ensure that more students graduate from high school ready for college and career, a universally accepted goal.”

Achieve has been helping states align graduation requirements with real-world demands since its founding. In 2005, it launched its ADP Network, which helps state policymakers collaborate with K-12 public education, postsecondary education, the business community and other state partners to identify the skills and knowledge required for their graduates to succeed after high school.

For a copy of the report, click here.

See a video of the press event here.

To learn more about Achieve, visit

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Created by the nation's governors and business leaders, Achieve is a bipartisan, non-profit organization that helps states raise academic standards, improve assessments and strengthen accountability to prepare all young people for postsecondary success. At the 2005 National Education Summit, Achieve launched the American Diploma Project (ADP) Network, a coalition that has grown to 33 states, educating nearly 80% of public school students in the United States. The ADP Network is committed to aligning high school expectations with the demands of college, career and life. For more information, please visit