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Interactive Maps, Explained: A Preview of the Broader Implications of our State CCR Policies Maps

Katie Pak, Adam Edgerton
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
College- and Career-Readiness
Policy Attributes Theory
Standards Implementation

A quick click through state education agency (SEA) websites reveals just how much state leaders do to design complex approaches to standards implementation. Our second interactive map series shows patterns in how states have conceptualized their processes for implementing college- and career-readiness (CCR) standards. These patterns allowed us to create profiles of states in their implementation approaches.

Several states distinguished themselves in each of the policy attributes—specificity, consistency, authority, power, and stability:

  1. We found highly specific definitions of “college and career readiness” in Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, and West Virginia.
  2. High school courses of study considered consistent with CCR standards expectations were in California, Maine, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, D.C., Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Ohio, and West Virginia.
  3. The states with the relatively highest numbers of enacted laws and requirements (authority) were West Virginia, Utah, Indiana, Texas, Hawaii, and Arkansas.
  4. The states with the most rewards and sanctions, i.e. accountability (power), were Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Georgia.
  5. The top nine most stable states that made the fewest number of standards and assessments changes between 2007 and 2016, and prohibited opting out of assessments, were Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia.

Our second interactive map series also identifies states exhibiting all five policy attributes overall as high, moderate, or low by aggregating all five policy attributes with cutoff points at equal increments (0-5.5, 6-11.5, 12-17.5).

Using this broader 50-state dataset[1], we have already begun to explore similarities and differences in how states designed policy activities that contributed to the specificity, consistency, authority, power, and stability of CCR standards-based reform. Interestingly, the specificity and stability of policy activities did not vary much across the 50 states, while significant variations existed in the levels of consistency, authority, and power. To identify which states are high, moderate, or low in consistency, authority, and power, we determined point ranges by a statistical method called cluster analysis, which, unlike other maps, finds the point at which there are meaningful differences in variations between groups.

Both approaches to considering trends and variations in how states have implemented CCR standards are necessary because “implementation” itself is such a nuanced term. In his review of implementation studies, O’Toole (2000) encountered a “bewildering array of variables” that scholars have used to identify, measure, and evaluate activities that are in some ways related to implementation. These maps contain just a small proportion of the numerous policy activities that could also reflect the specificity, consistency, authority, power, and stability attributes that states employ when creating their implementation strategies. But whether using clusters or averages, we find similar groupings of states.

What might account for the similar levels of specificity and stability across the 50 states?  The high specificity in states’ efforts to implement standards-based reform can be attributed to the nearly all states providing CCR-aligned curricular frameworks for general education students, ELLs, and SWDs by 2016. One reason for this trend is that many states adopted a common set of standards in the first place—to share curricular resources aligned to the same standards across the nation. Using a network analysis to determine which states shared standards resources with each other, researchers Emily M. Hodge, Serena J. Salloum, and Susanna L. Benko (2016) found that most states link to each other or to the same organizations on their web pages that list instructional resources. The most commonly linked resource was the New York State Department of Education’s EngageNY curriculum, while others included material from the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Governors Association, the Teaching Channel, the Public Broadcasting Service, and the National Association of State Boards of Education. Even states that never adopted the Common Core–Alaska, Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska–are among the mix of states linking to Common Core-aligned materials.

We attribute the generally low levels of stability among states to the political backlash of the Common Core State Standards. Though the Common Core was an initiative originally led by state governors, the bulk of the criticisms today concern perceived federal overreach via Race to the Top in influencing what students should know and be able to do. The highly politicized nature of the Common Core has caused legislators to introduce 35 bills to repeal the current standards, 26 to repeal the current assessment system, 62 to modify the assessment (10 of which have been enacted), 67 to delay the implementation of or use of student achievement scores in state accountability systems (6 of which have been enacted), and 56 to modify the state accountability system (10 of which have been enacted) in the year 2016.[2] This flurry of legislative activity to replace or modify state CCSS systems reflects declining membership in CCSS consortia, including the membership in the two federally funded summative assessments aligned to the standards, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

Several policy distinctions explain the differences in consistency, authority, and power. While all states have reported alignment of their assessments with their CCR standards, not all have chosen to align teacher evaluations, high school courses of study, or professional learning standards to the standards (i.e. consistency). States vary in their requirements and legislative activities that could have added weight to the standards (i.e. authority) and in their uses of rewards and sanctions to enforce implementation (i.e. power). Importantly, none of the states with low consistency, authority, and power are Race to the Top winners, while 50% of the states in the high attribute group are, as well as 41% of the moderate attribute group. This finding holds with the Race to the Top requirement for grantees to establish teacher evaluations tied to the state assessments (consistency), public reporting of college and career readiness measures (power), and other conditions that add authority to the implementation of CCR standards. 

These are just a few of our findings as we do a deep dive into state behaviors to promote the implementation of CCR standards. For more information, attend our presentation at the 2017 AERA Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas on Friday, April 28, from 2:15 to 3:45 pm, in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Meeting Room Level, Room 216 A.


O'Toole Jr, L. J. (2000). Research on policy implementation: Assessment and prospects. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory: J-PART, 263-288.


[1] Nebraska first implemented CCR ELA standards in 2015-2016 and math standards in 2016-2017. The year 2016-2017 is also the first year of ELA assessments aligned to the CCR standards, and 2017-2018 is the year in which the math assessment aligned to the CCR standards will be administered in this state. Due to this delayed timeline, Nebraska has been excluded from this study, which focuses on CCR standards implementation from 2013-2016. For simplicity, we consider D.C. a state in our 50-state database.

[2] For more information on these bills, see