The national effort toward developing common curriculum standards for states to use, called the Common Core State Standards Initiative, released its first set of standards (covering English language arts and math) on June 2, 2010. States competing for the federal Race to the Top fund must adopt the standards to receive RTTT funds.

More than 30 states have adopted Common Core at the time of this writing. Texas and Alaska were the only two states that did not participate in a consortium of states to develop the standards, with Texas opting out due to assertions that our own standards were high-quality and rigorous. 

An independent think tank, the Fordham Foundation, recently released its review of how state standards compared to the Common Core, awarding Texas a grade of “A minus” on our ELA standards and “C” on our Math standards. About Texas’ ELA standards, Fordham found:

“Texas’s ELA standards are more clearly written, better presented, and logically organized than the Common Core standards. The Texas standards include expectations that more thoroughly address the comprehension and analysis of literary and non-literary text than Common Core, including helpful, detailed standards that outline genre-specific content and rhetorical techniques. In addition, Texas has prioritized writing genres by grade level. On the other hand, Common Core appends a list that specifies the quality and complexity of the reading that students should do. In addition, Common Core includes samples of student writing to help clarify writing expectations across grades. Texas would do well to incorporate such guidance into its standards.”

Regarding Texas’ math standards, Fordham found:

“Texas’s standards are strong in places, particularly in high school. But there are also weaknesses, especially in arithmetic, which is only minimally developed. The stated prioritization of arithmetic is undermined within the document. The coverage of basic geometry at the elementary level is not explicit enough. These important shortcomings result in a Content and Rigor score of four points out of seven.  Texas’ mathematics standards are mediocre, while those developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative earn an impressive A-minus. The CCSS math standards are significantly superior to what the Lone Star State has in place today.”