Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) sharpened his rhetoric this week about a decline in national reading and math scores among students in the state, accusing his predecessor, Democrat Martin O’Malley, of “cheating” on the exams by not testing some students with special needs.
“The administration was cheating on the scores,” Hogan said Tuesday during a news conference, according to video broadcast by WBAL. “They weren’t counting disabled, disadvantaged kids as other states were. This was the final report card for the O’Malley administration on education.”
It is the second time Hogan has taken a swipe at O’Malley, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, over the test scores. On Tuesday, Hogan used his strongest words.
Last week, O’Malley’s campaign referred questions about the scores to Jared Billings, a former policy adviser. Billings said that the exclusion decisions were made on the local level and that the O’Malley administration encouraged the school districts to administer the test more broadly.
“There was no administration policy of exclusions,” Billings said. “In fact, it was the opposite.”
Maryland showed significant drops on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for 2015, recording declines in all four tests in reading and math for fourth- and eighth-graders. Maryland was the only state to show that type of dip in scores.
Maryland previously excluded some special education and English-language learners. By including those students in 2015 results, the state recorded a significant decline.
Hogan has been under fire from Democrats for not releasing $68 million in funding to more than a dozen of Maryland’s most expensive school districts. On Monday, Democratic leaders again called on Hogan to provide the education funding, known as Geographic Cost of Education Index. They said school districts have been forced to cut programs and lay off teachers because the money was not given to them this year.
Hogan stood firm on his decision, arguing that the state could not afford to release the funds because of long-term issues involving the structural deficit.