About a dozen states have dropped out of Common Core testing consortia or voted to delay implementation of the new standards so far this year


The Common Core kicked off an unprecedented amount of legislation this year on student data privacy.

Stephen Colbert mocked it. Comedian Louis C.K. called it a “massive stress ball that hangs over the whole school.” And lawmakers in state capitols spent countless hours over the past few months debating it.

Their target is the Common Core, a set of math and English language arts standards voluntarily adopted beginning four years ago by all but a handful of states. The standards define what students should know and be able to do by the end of each grade.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia initially signed onto the standards in both math and language arts (Minnesota adopted only the language arts standards), hoping to better prepare students for college and careers by the time they graduate from high school. Supporters say the Common Core encourages critical thinking and analytical skills, rather than rote memorization.

But in the past year, criticism over the Common Core has ramped up in state legislatures, school board meetings, and classrooms. Critics from both the right and the left, including a very vocal tea party contingent, want to throw out the standards.

As of May 15, lawmakers had introduced more than 340 bills in 46 states—every state that had a regular legislative session this year—that addressed college- and career-readiness education standards, including the Common Core, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of those, 30 would slow down or delay college- and career-readiness standards and 35 would halt or revoke implementation altogether.

At the same time, implementation of the standards is well under way in most of the states that originally signed on. Despite widespread debate, only a handful of states have officially backed away from the Common Core, with a few others on the fence.

(Next page: How battles over the Common Core are raging in many states)