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Common Standards: Focus Soon Shifts to State Adoption

A lot of attention has focused on the development and content of the common standards as they have undergone multiple iterations. Now the final standards document is set for a June 2 release. How happy states—and a multitude of interest groups—will be with it remains to be seen. But once the common standards are finished, many pairs of eyes will turn to the states to see what they will do.

State have, of course, already been engaged in a lot of discussion about the standards. But now they're getting down to the nitty-gritty question of whether they will actually adopt them. The Race to the Top competition, which favors states that promise to adopt by Aug. 2, stirs incentive into the pot.

A recent memo issued by Colorado Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones offers a glimpse of the process states are going through now (some news coverage of it here). Distributed to the state's local superintendents, the memo tries to address many of the questions educators are asking about how the common standards mesh with states' own standards, and how the common assessments being developed by consortia of states would interact with states' own testing systems.

It's tricky territory for state leaders. Note how Commissioner Jones dismisses rumors that Colorado standards will be thrown out in favor of the common standards. Colorado recently spent lots of time and money reworking its own, and officials there have wondered why all that effort would be tossed overboard for a new set of standards. This is just one of a number of objections we can expect to hear as states seriously consider which way to go with common standards.

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