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Common Core Legislation: How Did Your State Do?

As the Common Core State Standards pick up steam as a policy issue, many of you may be wondering to what extent states have been passing laws related to the new Common Core State Standards in English and math. Have no fear: Daniel Thatcher, education policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, is here to help.

During his discussion of the common core in a webinar hosted by the Alliance for Excellent Education on June 21, Thatcher noted that many state lawmakers don't feel the "personal investment" in the major education policy change triggered by the new standards, which were an initiative of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association.

At the same time, additional legislation may be needed to make the common core work in various states, Thatcher noted. To that end, he has put together a very helpful website that tracks the various pieces of legislation that were introduced in statehouses across the country this year.

So far, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted both sets of standards, and Minnesota has adopted only the language arts standards. The first assessments tied to the common core are due to come online in the 2014-15 school year.

So far, the tally this year is 100 bills related to the common core, introduced in 36 states. Out of those 100, 39 have been enacted into law. Of those successful bills, according to Thatcher, 11 bills deal with the new assessments tied to the common core, while another 10 bills address instructional materials for the new standards. The biggest concerns for legislators in terms of the standards at this time are assessments and professional development, he said.

One option legislators could consider to help them in keeping up with the common core is a state "policy audit" they could conduct jointly with their state education departments.

"There needs to be harmony between different policies. And they may sometimes require legislative action," Thatcher said during the webinar.

In any event, Thatcher's website provides a good window into how state lawmakers are approaching (or not approaching) various aspects of the huge policy and classroom shift that is the common core.

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