According to Common Core testing statistics, which were just released on May 19, less than half of Maryland’s kindergartners are actually ready to take the Common Core tests that schools are required to use as an assessment tool.

The Capital Gazette and WBAL 1090 have reported that only 47% of Maryland kindergartners have the basic skills needed in math, language, and literacy in order to understand the Common Core tests for their age level.

The Common Core began as an initiative to set higher standards for American students, and although its accuracy and effectiveness have been disputed from the very beginning, it is still used in 45 states across the country.

Maryland began using Common Core tests in pre-K classes three years ago. These tests, according to WBAL, aren’t intended to measure how much the kids have already learned; instead, they’re used to measure if the kids are “‘fully ready’ to learn.”

Last year, the pre-K tests found that 83% of Maryland kindergartners, ages four to five, were “fully ready.”

The sudden drop in the number of “fully ready” kindergartners this year, however, already has many Marylanders worrying.

State officials have blamed the Common Core testing standards, stating that program developers changed the standards, between last year and this year, of what a four-year-old or five-year-old knows when he or she is “fully ready to learn.”

Others are blaming the school districts, teachers, and Common Core test developers themselves for the questionable test results this year. According to the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban districts throughout the country, test prep and testing now takes up an average of 27 days (or 15%) out of each school year.

Instead of spending so much time on testing, parents and teachers are arguing, more emphasis should be placed on healthy and educational activities, both at home and in the classroom. In recent years, experts state, young children have not been encouraged to pursue informative learning activities as much as they used to be.

For example, back in 1999, a study found that children ages two to seven read an average of 45 minutes per day. By 2013, that average reading time dropped to just 30 minutes a day.

There have been no reports yet about how state education officials are planning to change early education curriculums in order to adapt to Common Core learning standards.