Hot off the press: Almost every State has signed onto the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The goal: National Standards for ELA and Math that are "fewer, clearer, higher", supported by evidence and benchmarked against international standards. And, they will be rigorous:
"The standards will include high-level cognitive demands by asking students to demonstrate deep conceptual understanding through the application of content knowledge and skills to new situations. High-level cognitive demand includes reasoning, justification, synthesis, analysis, and problem-solving."
Finally. This is what we have been waiting for. Of course, I'd like to see it for Science and Social Studies as well. I'd also like to see the standards incorporate more use of technology as a tool for achieving these goals. But, I provided this as my feedback, and you can too! As long as you do it today.... Check out the standards and comment at Core Standards.