Florida may be the first state to replace the SAT and ACT with a conservative-backed “classical” exam for public college admissions.
Why it’s important Driven by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is running for president in 2024, the state’s education policies have been a leading indicator of Republican policy nationally.
The classical education model—not to be confused with “classics” or “classical humanities”—places emphasis on a return to “core values” and the “centrality of the Western tradition.” In Florida’s private Christian schools and charter schools, it has recently picked up steam.
According to its website, the Classical Learning Test was introduced in 2015 and is utilised by co-op groups and families that homeschool their children. Its scores are accepted by over 200 colleges and universities, many of them religious.
Grammar and writing, numeric reasoning, and verbal reasoning make up the three portions of the test.
Present situation: According to Altony Lee III, a board spokesperson, the Florida Board of Governors will vote on the Classical Learning Test on August 30.
Universities might start accepting scores from traditional tests starting with the 2023–24 admissions season, according to Lee, if the board approves it.
A bill allowing students to utilise their marks on traditional exams to determine their eligibility for a state-wide college scholarship programme was signed into law by DeSantis in May.
Requests for comment from DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education went unanswered.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, critics claim that the focus on Western civilization in classical education prioritises white Europe and America.
The so-called “classical education is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” according to Julian Vasquez Heilig, a professor of educational leadership, research, and technology at Western Michigan University.
“Really what it’s about is using selective Western thinkers to foment a specific moral ideology,” he continued.
The mystery: Hillsdale College, a tiny, Christian, classical liberal arts college in Michigan, is credited with being a major innovator in the field of classical education. According to the Miami Herald, DeSantis has used this institution to assist reform Florida’s educational system.
Hillsdale College lists five Florida campuses as “member schools” on its website, more than any other state.
Others are referred to as “candidate member” or “curriculum” schools, and they get curriculum, consulting, and training.
The state’s decision to reject maths textbooks that discussed critical race theory and social emotional development was influenced by Hillsdale.
Students develop a mature love for America through learning about the founding principles of our nation and its history, including all of its victories and tragedies, according to the Hillsdale website.
Zooming out In July, the Florida Board of Education supported revised guidelines for teaching Black history, which included slavery.
After receiving criticism from DeSantis earlier this year, the College Board changed the Advanced Placement African American history curriculum; this decision received a lot of opposition.
At the time, the College Board’s president declared that political considerations had nothing to do with the revisions.
DeSantis has ultimately looked for items other than those produced by the College Board, such the Classical Learning Test.
After Florida declared teaching sexual orientation and gender identity topics to be unlawful, the College Board first stated that Advanced Placement Psychology was “effectively banned” in Florida. However, on Friday, the College Board changed its position.
“We now hope that Florida teachers will be able to teach the full course, including content on gender and sexual orientation, without fear of punishment,” the College Board stated in a statement.
Last year, DeSantis approved the “Don’t Say Gay” measure, which prohibits teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation to students in kindergarten through third grade.
DeSantis signed a bill in May defunding diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at public colleges in Florida.