Maryland Republican gubernatorial hopeful David R. Craig is calling for the state to withdraw its participation from a national education test that is part of the Common Core State Standards initiative.
Craig, the Harford County executive, cited concerns Tuesday about the cost of the test and the uncertainty that teachers have voiced about implementing it. His concerns echo those voiced in recent months by governors of several Republican-led states.
“There are red flags going up everywhere threatening the statewide K-12 education system, and it’s time to cut our losses now,” Craig, a former educator, said in a statement. “Common Core has its own set of issues, and the national test that is lumped in with it just compounds the problem.”
Craig, who faces several competitors in a June GOP primary, said the Maryland State Department of Education “is embracing a federal education agenda that forces too many changes onto teachers and students at once, and it’s time to put the word ‘Maryland’ back into our schools.”
Maryland is one of 45 states, along with the District of Columbia, that have adopted the Common Core standards, an initiative designed to establish a single set of educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and math.
It has been coordinated by governors and state education officials from both political parties and championed by President Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan. In Maryland, the State Board of Education adopted Common Core unanimously in June 2010, becoming one of the first states to sign on.
Testing aligned with the new standards is being piloted in Maryland and other states this year and is scheduled to replace the state’s existing assessment tests during the 2014-15 school year.
Reading and math scores dropped on the existing tests for Maryland elementary and middle school students last school year, a decline educators blamed on the transition to teaching the new standards while still administering the old exams.
Maryland is implementing testing designed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, one of two organizations developing the new exams. The cost of administering the new test will be significantly higher than the existing test, Craig said.
“The problem with outside groups designing tests is there is no accountability in the classroom,” Craig said. “When I was a teacher, we developed our own tests and our students then could measure up with any other student in the world. They are making this far too complicated. Let teachers teach.”
In next year’s Republican primary, Craig faces Del. Ronald A. George (Anne Arundel), Charles County businessman Charles Lollar and retired Baltimore firefighter Brian Vaeth. Larry Hogan, a Cabinet secretary under former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), is considering joining the race.