Common Core Politics and Elections: Where the Standards Stand Amid No Child Left Behind Rewrite, Post-Testing Glitches (HEAT MAP)

Common Core Politics and Elections: Where the Standards Stand Amid No Child Left Behind Rewrite, Post-Testing Glitches (HEAT MAP)
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering at Burlington County College Thursday, May 28, 2015, in Pemberton, N.J. Christie is backing away from the use of Common Core school standards, saying the system isn't working for students in New Jersey. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

With presidential campaigns gearing up alongside pending education overhaul in Congress, education’s latest political punching bag is taking bigger blows.

The Senate last week approved a No Child Left Behind rewrite that would rework the Bush-era law, which expanded the federal role in education, and return much education power to the states. Among the rewrite’s provisions is banning the federal government from incentivizing or mandating specific sets of academic standards, like the Common Core, which in recent years has become the target of political education backlash.

The Senate’s legislation comes just after students across the country completed their first year of Common Core-aligned exams in the spring. The testing process was less than perfect, with Nevada, Montana, and North Dakota dominating the airwaves with news of a botched exam rollout that crippled standardized testing across the states. Nevada has since filed a breach of contract notice for the technical outages with vendor Measured Progress, and is looking to sign a new deal with California-based CTB/McGraw-Hill.

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The Common Core is a set of academic benchmarks -- not a curriculum -- that lays out what American students should know by the end of each grade level to ensure students are college-and career-ready by the time they graduate high school. Individual states and districts determine how to teach and assess their students to meet those standards, which were developed by education experts and interest groups representing state leaders. Nationally, 45 states, Washington, D.C. and three territories originally adopted the standards between 2010 and 2011.

But in response to public outrage and political pressures, some states started to backtrack. Indiana was the first to ax the Common Core last March. Oklahoma and South Carolina followed.

Now, Republican presidential hopefuls are also playing to political strengths, decrying the standards regardless of their prior stances on the issue. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are among those who once backed the Common Core, but now abhor it as they race toward the White House. Even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, once one of the few pro-Core Republican governors left standing, decided to take it all back after he announced his White House bid. For a while, former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush was the only candidate on the right who stood behind the standards, until Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced his candidacy Tuesday.

As Common Core opponents fight more vociferously than supporters, RealClearEducation compiled an (unscientific) heat map that assesses Common Core’s risk of revocation in each state based on a number of measures, including the stances of state governors and superintendents, legislative warmth for the standards, and how previous attempts to edit or repeal the standards have fared in state legislatures. The states are rated on a scale of 0 (no risk of repeal) to 10 (very high risk of repeal). See our first heat map from December here.

Hover over the heat map below for more. Zoom controls are at the top left. To drag the map, hold down the shift key, click, and pull with your mouse. Select consecutive groups to highlight by clicking while holding down the shift key, or highlight nonconsecutive groups by clicking while holding down the control key. Alaska is not pictured, as the state did not adopt Common Core.

This article and the data below were last updated July 22, 2015.


The landscape hasn’t changed drastically since the winter, as most of the Common Core climate has shifted more politically than legislatively. That, however, could change we enter election season and are faced with possible new implications in an NCLB rewrite, and as states reassess testing contracts and consider new legislation.


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