Lowery and Dance said that additional professional training may be needed for teachers. Dance said the results also show a need for better curriculum.
National experts say Maryland's current math standards are some of the worst in the country, according to a Fordham Institute study by Stephen W. Wilson, a professor of education and mathematics at the Johns Hopkins University, who helped critique both existing state standards and the new common core standards. Maryland got a D grade, the same as nine other states.
Francis M. "Skip" Fennell, an education professor at McDaniel College and an authority on the teaching of math, said he believes the lower math scores could be the result of a between the difficulty of the elementary and middle school tests. However, he said other tests given to students across the nation have shown the same trend.
"As children from the United States are assessed internationally, the higher up we go the less competitive we tend to be," Fennell said.
The data also showed that about half of all students in the state are reading in the advanced level by fifth grade and that high achievement in reading continues through middle school. But just the reverse is true with math.
With the new common core curriculum, students will be required to do more nonfiction reading and more writing, but math is expected to change more substantially.
Students will cover subjects in greater depth and less breadth at each grade level. For instance, arithmetic would be covered in greater depth at the elementary grades, and by the end of seventh grade, students would be expected to take a true Algebra I course, rather than the watered-down algebra now taught in most ninth-grade classes.
That also means that Maryland students would have to play catch up in the next two years before they are required to do the more demanding work in math class.