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All but four states submitted Race to the Top proposals, and 18 states and the District of Columbia received awards.

Eventually, 43 states and the District of Columbia fully adopted Common Core, while one other state, Minnesota, adopted only the reading standards.

Although much of the debate surrounding Common Core has focused on the nature of the curriculum for each grade level, proponents have also sought to raise the proficiency level on tests that assess student learning.

With opposition mounting in both liberal and conservative circles, support for Common Core slipped significantly among the public at large, casting doubt on its very viability.

But despite staunch political dissent, a careful look at proficiency standards reveals that most states have delivered on their commitments to tighten them.

To be clear, high proficiency standards do not necessarily reflect high student performance.

Rather, good grades suggest that states are setting a high proficiency bar—that students must perform at a high level to be deemed proficient in a given subject at their grade level.

The department announced a competition that would award grants totaling more than .3 billion to states that proposed to undertake reforms drawn from an extensive list provided by the department.

Adopting “college-and-career-ready” standards was among the recommended reforms.

In 2015, however, 24 of the 49 states (including the District of Columbia) for which data were available as of mid-January 2016 earned an “A.” Meanwhile, the number of states receiving a “D” or an “F” has dwindled from 17 and 13 in 20, respectively, to a grand total of 1 in 2015 (See Figure 1).

In short, state standards have suddenly skyrocketed.

In spite of Tea Party criticism, union skepticism, and anti-testing outcries, the campaign to implement Common Core State Standards (otherwise known as Common Core) has achieved phenomenal success in statehouses across the country.

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