The two groups of states, one led by California and the other by Wisconsin, are pursuing $10.7 million in federal aid to create exams on English-language proficiency.
The National Research Council says the academic benefits of test-based incentive programs have been "quite small."
Federal aid to help promote the teaching of foreign languages was reduced as part of a recent budget deal in Washington.
The 84th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee is taking place just outside Washington this week.
Five states are banding together to create a Web-based clearinghouse to help teachers translate the common standards into classroom work.
Observers and critics take The New York Times to task for its profile of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's influence on education policy.
The federally-funded study did not find a statistically significant impact on teacher knowledge or student achievement after two years in the program.
The chairman of the House education committee says the administration is "pushing a national curriculum," and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan asserts that no such thing is happening.
The initiative comes as funding for a federal program to promote literacy through school libraries was recently eliminated.
A new study details the relative earnings potential of various college majors.