It's not time to panic quite yet over Maryland's plummeting elementary and middle school assessment scores. To be sure, they're not good, showing widespread declines in performance for the first time in years. But the declines are so systemic and sudden as to suggest a single culprit could be responsible for most of the change, and this year, there's an obvious answer. Maryland's test scores went up year after year as its districts aligned their curricula and teachers their lessons with the Maryland School Assessments. Now, though, as part of a national effort to improve academic standards, the state is in the process of adopting a new curriculum, but it is stuck for the moment with the old assessments. Ironically enough, it's possible that test scores went down this year in large part because students are being taught at a higher level.