The Iowa Democrat, who is retiring this year, said he will "try" to get a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act done before he leaves office.
The president also mounted an indirect defense of the common-core standards and a more spirited, direct defense of his signature Race to the Top program.
President Barack Obama is expected to use his State of the Union speech to make clear he's willing to exert executive power and influence to push his education priorities.
Sens. Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, and Tim Scott, of South Carolina, are planning legislation to dramatically expand school choice, with federal financial support.
Georgia decided not to pursue an administrative hearing with the U.S. Department of Education and becomes the first state to lose part of its Race to the Top grant because it didn't implement a promised merit-pay plan.
President Barack Obama is expected to talk about income inequality and poverty in his state-of-the-union address on Tuesday.
While South Carolina had relatively minor problems, the U.S. Department of Education found bigger problems with No Child Left Behind Act waiver implementation in Nevada, new reports show.
The letter from 34 state superintendents caps a rising wave of concern that administering student assessments through two big multistage consortia puts student data privacy at risk.
A department spokeswoman would not comment on whether marijuana legalization efforts will change the messaging or policy for its drug prevention programs.
Obama typically uses his annual address to Congress to outline an edu-wish list for the year.