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Florida Legislators Consider Alternative Standardized Testing

May 9, 2023

Could an alternative to AP courses and traditional standardized tests be on the rise? This week, the Florida Legislature allocated $2.8M to develop a “homegrown program” as an alternative to AP classes in Florida. The Legislature is also advancing legislation to boost a different standardized test in Florida. This follows a clash in February between the DeSantis administration and the College Board over its African American Studies Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum draft, which culminated in the College Board revising their draft curriculum.

This AP alternative could be coming to Florida quickly—even as soon as next fall or spring. State Senator Keith Perry, the Senate’s education budget chief, told reporters that “the plan is to have this new testing system up and running sometime in the next school year.” He further argued, as quoted by Andrew Atterbury in Politico, that “There are a lot of kids who are homeschooled, there’s a lot of other kids in the state that their education is different than the regular public school education […] We want to make sure there’s a broad capacity for them to be tested, and for that to be recognized by the universities.’”

In addition to a potential alternative to AP tests, Florida lawmakers are considering another change that would affect the College Board: promoting an alternative to the SAT (which is administered by the College Board) called the Classic Learning Test (CLT). Advocates of the CLT say it’s rooted in “a great classical and Christian tradition,” according to the Tampa Bay Times, and is mostly used by private schools and homeschooled students. According to the CLT website, the test is much shorter than the traditional ACT/SAT, only lasting approximately 2 hours. A CBS News sponsored panel of high schoolers all agreed it was “easier” than the SAT.

The proposed legislation would allow students to take the CLT to qualify for the state’s widely popular Bright Futures Scholarship. In addition, Florida’s education department would develop a way to compare the CLT test scores against the SAT and ACT. It would also allow school districts to offer the CLT for free to 11th graders, just as the SAT and ACT are offered currently. Notably, the legislation does not require other universities to accept the CLT in addition to the ACT or SAT. So far, the majority of schools in Florida, including top-rated schools like Florida State University, University of Florida, and University of Miami (top 3 according to U.S. News), do not accept the CLT. In fact, it’s only accepted by ~200 small universities in the U.S. and Canada, the majority of which are private Christian schools.

In explaining the new push to develop alternatives to the College Board, Florida House Speaker Paul Renner argued:“We want to have multiple options for students.” However, while these changes are only at the state-level, some analysts fear that they could lead to out-of-state colleges viewing Florida [applicants] as less competitive academically.

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