This week members of the House Higher Education Subcommittee unanimously voted down a resolution that would have urged Tennessee officials to evaluate the popular Classic Learning Test for state-sponsored scholarships and admission to public universities.
As The Tennessee Star reported last year, people consider this test, also known as the CLT, an alternative to the SAT and the ACT. People also regard the CLT as a good alternative for homeschooled students.
State Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, asked subcommittee members to pass what was nothing more than a resolution — but one of those members, State Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, said he does “despise this bill.”
“I’m just going to be candid with you. It seems like the provider of the CLT test will be tracking this (test) data, and I would assume that if they want to integrate it into our institutions of higher learning that they could present that to the autonomous admissions counselors each year at all of our public institutions and not get us involved with it,” Vaughan told Cepicky at this week’s meeting, available to view on the Tennessee General Assembly’s website.
“It seems like this is an effort by an organization, whose business is providing test data, coming and trying to use the legislature to strongarm our higher education institutions.”
But Cepicky said Vaughan’s reasoning was incorrect.
“To assume that our colleges and our universities operate autonomously from the General Assembly when they have lobbying events for us to lobby our votes for things, when we fund a big portion of what they do. Sometimes you have to speak up for someone that doesn’t have a voice. And when you go before the huge 9,000 pound beast in the room you don’t get any say,” Cepicky told Vaughan and other subcommittee members.
“But because of the position that we have in the state of Tennessee, we give them a voice. And I’m trying to give a group that doesn’t have a voice because of the power that the ACT and SAT people have over college admissions right now. It’s big. It’s powerful.”
Cepicky went on to say that some homeschooled students might miss out on scholarship money because they didn’t test high enough on the ACT.
Subcommittee members, in addition to Vaughan, include:
• State Rep. Chris Hurt, R-Halls
• State Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville
• State Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett
• State Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis
• State Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville
• State Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis
None of those men returned The Star’s repeated requests for comment Friday.
Cepicky also did not return repeated requests for comment.
Spring Hill resident Kimberly Farley, who wanted the resolution passed, and who also said she does subcontract work for CLT, said subcommittee members should have discussed the merits of the CLT.
“We know that testing is driving curriculum. Because these are high-stakes tests, they are determining what is taught in schools. We are allowing the ACT and the SAT, who have very similar visions, they are both Common Core-aligned, and they have major Common Core supporters on staff in key leadership positions, to determine what is taught,” Farley told The Star on Friday.
“The fact that they want to shut down a company that offers an alternative is what is important because it’s affecting the education of our students. It’s not just about having a choice and what assessment our kids take and having that qualify them. It’s about them wanting control of education in America.”
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