Washington is one of 45 states implementing the new Common Core State Standards in math and English-language arts. Common Core is a different approach to learning, teaching and testing. These standards provide a deeper understanding of key concepts in math and English-language arts. They require practical, real-life application of knowledge that will prepare Washington students for success in college, work and life.

Common Core will fall under Washington’s umbrella of learning standards, known as the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs). These standards were developed in the mid-1990s as part of Washington’s education reform efforts and have been revised several times in various subjects. The state created Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) to provide more detail to educators, parents and students about what should be learned from kindergarten through 10th grade.

Washington is expected to be one of the first states to adopt and implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a learning standards concept similar to Common Core. If adopted, Washington will have standards in math, English-language arts and science similar to a majority of other states, creating consistent learning expectations for all students.


State testing is important because it helps all public school students, no matter where they attend school, receive a quality education. Washington students are regularly tested by the state in grades 3-8 and high school. Students in high school are tested on their proficiency of basic skills and must pass five exams (algebra 1, geometry, reading, writing and biology) to be eligible to graduate.

In spring 2015, Washington will move to college-and-career ready assessments developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), a consortia of 25 states working to develop the computer-based testing system that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards in math and English-language arts. Smarter Balanced assessments will replace the grades 3-8 Measurements of Student Progress. It has yet to be determined what high school exams the state will keep as it transitions to the 11th grade Smarter Balanced test.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) develops or selects and administers all state assessments. OSPI also reports achievement data for students, schools, districts and the state at its State Report Card site. This information assists districts and schools in refining instructional practices and curriculum and gives families valuable information about how well their child is doing and where additional help might be needed.

To learn more about student achievement in Washington, please read our policy reports: