Though this is a state-led effort, the federal government is about to provide support. States that adopt common standards and tests will get a leg up in the competition for the $4 billion Race to the Top fund. And Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has set aside $350 million to help states work together to develop common assessments aligned to these standards. An important promise of widely adopted standards is that states can work together to develop shared tools such as curricula, textbooks, online resources, and professional development so that standards and assessments—finally—become actualized in classrooms.
These common efforts by the states aren't a panacea, but they will provide an important foundation for dedicated teachers, principals, and state and local education leaders who are working hard every day to improve student achievement. They should also help inform the next reauthorization of the federal law and solve some of the law's most significant shortcomings.