[caption id="attachment_118596" align="alignleft" width="150"] The standards are designed to be more rigorous and to encourage deeper critical thinking skills—but implementing them poses a challenge.[/caption]

In Kentucky this year, the percentage of elementary and middle school students who rated "proficient" or better on statewide math and reading tests declined by about a third. Kentucky high schoolers also experienced a double-digit percentage point decline in both subjects.

Those results might sound dismal, but they were better than state education officials had expected. Kentucky is the first state to tie its tests to the new...

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