DeSantis vs College Board

In late January, headlines circled over the rejection of the new AP African-American Studies class by Governor Ron DeSantis, marking the beginning of a feud between him and College Board. More recently, on February 13th, DeSantis made a statement during a press conference that was the cause of concern for many, saying “Nobody elected (the College Board) to anything, they’re just …  providing services, and so you can either utilize those services or not. They have provided these AP courses for a long time, but … there are probably some other vendors who may be able to do that job as good or maybe even a lot better.” This has led many in the state of Florida to proclaim the end of College Board in the state, which would mean no AP classes or SAT tests.

Pic courtesy of The New Yorker

With no SATs, Florida students would have to look to alternative standardized tests. The 700,000 plus students in Florida that take SAT or PSAT-related assessments every year in our state would have to switch to another test, which for most, would be the ACT. However, far fewer students take the ACT, especially the Pre-ACT, meaning FL students may be at a disadvantage when it comes to standardized testing.

One new alternative that has been coming up frequently is the Classical Learning Test. Founded in 2015, it is currently used by homeschooled and private school students. Chad Pecknold, a board member for the Classical Learning Initiative, tweeted that “an alternative to the College Board that orients people to the perennial truths of the great classical and Christian tradition.” The company’s founder, Jeremy Tate, wants the test to be accepted as an option for the Bright Futures scholarship, along with the SAT and ACT. While DeSantis hasn’t officially supported the test, some in the Department of Education have.

The removal of AP classes from Florida could put our students at a disadvantage compared to those in other states. On the matter, Mrs. Houvouras said, “I think that out-of-state schools especially, like to see how students do on AP tests because they are standardized. While GPAs are important, you never know what the rigor is from one school to another, with honors classes and things like that, but AP is a set curriculum that people recognize as being the ‘gold standard’ for academic rigor. So if you’ve got Florida students graduating that have no AP credits, I think out-of-state colleges are going to not be as eager to accept them.”

While the removal of AP classes may have some drawbacks, the teachers interviewed didn’t see the situation as having much of an impact on their classrooms. Mr. Whitcomb had to say, “I don’t envision [DeSantis] taking something away without having something similar to fill its role. So I would just have a few different letters after the class I teach, it won’t be AP it’ll just be whatever it ends up being. I don’t envision him just being done with college prep courses.” Mrs. Houvouras shared similar thoughts, saying “that would mean teaching a different curriculum. I tend to think it’s probably not going to happen, I think it’s just bluster, just to get his base wound up, but the reality is if he stopped working with College Board and pulled them out of Florida, AP classes would go, too.”

Courtesy of Business Insider

On the situation overall, Mr. Whitcomb warns that this may not be an empty threat by DeSantis, saying, “I would say that it sounds like talk, but after the situation with Disney which he actually followed through, everyone kept thinking he was just for talk, and then the other day he signed the bill that officially changed the tax privileges and zoning for Disney, while everyone thought for the past year that he was just blowing smoke.”

Whether the comments from DeSantis will cause any major changes to our education will be determined in the coming months. The ongoing feud between DeSantis and College Board is certainly something to monitor, but not something to lose sleep over.