U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is offering up to $350 million in federal funds to help develop national standards for reading and math.
Addressing an education conference in North Carolina Sunday, Duncan said developing assessments is a "very heavy lift financially." He said the project could stall without federal backing.
Education decisions generally are controlled by the states, and the federal government cannot mandate national standards. That makes for wide variation from state to state. Students and schools considered to be failing in one state might get passing grades in another.
The money will come from the federal Education Department's $5 billion fund to reward states that adopt innovations the Obama administration supports.
Every state except Alaska, South Carolina, Missouri and Texas has signed on to an effort to develop standards by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. But getting the states to adopt whatever emerges will be politically difficult.
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