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Chris Christie backs away from Common Core

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addresses VA Consumer Electronics Association during a Leadership Series discussion at the Ritz-Carlton on May 1, 2015 in McLean, Virginia.

Oliver Douliery, Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, once a supporter of the controversial Common Core program, announced on Thursday that he's directing the New Jersey Department of Education to develop plans for new education standards.

"It's now been five years since Common Core was adopted" in New Jersey, Christie said in a speech on education at Burlington County College in Pemberton, New Jersey. "And the truth is that it's simply not working... We need to do something different."

New Jersey was in 2010 one of the first state to adopt federal Common Core standards, which specify what a student should learn by the end of each grade. The federal program encourages states to develop testing regimens around the standards. The standards are highly controversial, particularly among conservatives concerned about federal overreach and threats to parental rights, and the subject is expected to be a flashpointin the 2016 Republican primaries.

Christie, who is expected to soon announce whether or not he's running for president, has in recent months expressed his concerns with Common Core. However, in 2013, he endorsed the program and called it "one of those areas where I have agreed more with the president than not."

In his remarks Thursday, Christie said the program has created "confusion and frustration" among parents and has created more problems than it's solved. He specifically directed the Department of Education to convene teams of educators and parents to review previous state standards and consider recommending changes to the current standards by the end of the year.

Christie stressed that any new standards will be developed by New Jersey educators and parents, rather than federal leaders. "As Washington has increased its control over our students' education, our children have fallen further and further behind their peers around the world," he said.