Volume 47, Number 1 - August 24, 2009

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Theo Karantsalis
Theo Karantsalis
Staff Writer

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CLAST Exam Terminated

By Theo Karantsalis

The College Level Academic Skills Test, better known as the CLAST, was terminated in July 2009 by the Florida legislature.

The test has been given to students since 1984, to gauge their math and English competencies.

According to Georgette Perez, North Campus director for new student services, students who did not pass the CLAST and fail to meet the GPA requirement can take the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), the American College Testing exam (ACT), or the College Placement Test (CPT).

“Whichever exam the student decides to take, he or she must pass with the appropriate score to satisfy the CLAST requirements,” Perez said.

While some students are thrilled that they don’t have to sit for another exam, reality sets in for those who haven’t taken and passed the CLAST.  These students must now complete skill-related courses that exempted other students from the test.

 “I took the CLAST two years ago, but I didn’t pass the math part,” said Demetrice Clay, 37, a criminal justice major at the Carrie P. Meek EEC.  “I’m not sure what to do now that the CLAST is no longer given.”

The CLAST was designed to measure college-level academic skills, for students seeking an associate in arts, bachelor of arts, or a bachelor of science in a Florida public college.

Each CLAST subtest yields a single score that is reported to the student and to his or her respective college, according to the Florida Department of Education Web site. 

Information related to skill strengths and weaknesses is also generated and used by the schools to develop courses to meet students’ specific needs.

North Campus Dean of Students, Malou Harrison, said that while change is healthy, decisions made that affect large numbers of students must be well thought out. 

She said she would have liked to see a “reasonable time-line for implementation that included vetting with stakeholders the intricacies of the proposed plan and enlisting feedback for consideration.”

“If lawmakers could do it all over, I’d hope there’d be some grandfathering of students in the pipeline and a reasonable timeline for implementation,” Harrison said.

From 1984 to 2009, the exam has become more and more difficult.  The scores needed to pass the math and English portions of the CLAST have increased by almost 15 percent, or from 260 to 295.

Students can exempt themselves from taking the CLAST by earning a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher in approved communications and math classes.

A student also qualifies for an exemption if he or she scores at least a 500 on the SAT math and verbal sections, a 22 on the ACT reading, or a 21 on the ACT English and math sections.

In 1995, the Florida legislature changed the law to let students use other ways to demonstrate proficiencies with the required college-level communication and computation skills.

“The college is looking at some other alternatives to ensure that students continue through the pipeline,” said Perez, the new student services director at the North Campus.  “We’re looking at adding additional courses that will fulfill CLAST requirements.”

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