Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, listens to Republican National Chairman Michael Steele, not pictured, during a rally in Richmond, Va.
The program is designed to improve achievement standards in schools across the country. In the second phase, states will compete to share a $3.4 billion grant for educational reform.
"We've had a great set of standards here in Virginia for 15 years and we think that common set of standards ought to be a floor, not a ceiling," McDonnell said. "They would require us to reduce the quality of Virginia standards, and we just can’t do that."
McDonnell said he does actually support most of the president's education reforms, including merit pay and charter schools.
In March, Virginia placed 31st out of 41 in the first round of the competition. D.C. finished 16th, while Delaware and Tennessee took the top spots.
Maryland did not compete in the first round, but will join the District and 34 other states in the second round.