On September 8, the State University System of Florida’s Board of Governors approved the Classic Learning Test (CLT) as an alternative to the ACT and SAT in state college admissions.
“The system is pleased to add the CLT to reach a wider variety of students from different educational backgrounds. Not intimidated by controversy or critics, our focus is on the success of our students, and the State of Florida,” said the Board of Governors in a statement.
Drawing on traditional Western classics, the test’s reading excerpts include Machiavelli’s The Prince, and statements by Albert Einstein and John Paul II.
Critics argue that the CLT “places too heavy an emphasis on biblical passages and traditional Western thought,” including texts from “largely white men with questionable positions on race, LGBTQ+ rights and multiculturalism,” according to Inside Higher Ed.
The CLT website explains, “The majority of these passages are drawn from classic literature and historical texts that have had a lasting influence on Western culture and society. Students do not need a prior knowledge of these texts to succeed on the CLT; instead, what is assessed is a student’s ability to read, comprehend, and analyze a text. Students who take the CLT will read atheist as well as religious authors, Karl Marx as well as Adam Smith, Aristotle as well as Mahatma Gandhi.”
Created by Jeremy Tate in 2015, the CLT evaluates students’ analytical and critical thinking skills, and states on its website that the assessment reflects “a holistic education.”
The CLT, according to its website, offers a “stress-free experience,” and takes two hours to complete, compared to the ACT and SAT test times that reach nearly three hours. Students can take the CLT from home. Most students who take the exam are homeschooled or private-schooled.
The Board of Governors added in a statement regarding its decision, “Because we reject the status quo, today’s decision means we are better serving students by giving them an opportunity to showcase their academic potential and paving the path to higher education. As this assessment focuses on critical thinking skills, Florida will lead the way in filling our state and nation with bright and competitive students.”
The Board of Governors approved the test 13-1. The only board member opposing, Amanda Phalin, “said the exam had not been sufficiently researched, or even around for long enough, to ensure it was of equal or comparable quality to the SAT or ACT.”
Following the test’s approval, Tate told the Wall Street Journal, “I’m very grateful to the DeSantis administration. But I am worried that now the classical education movement will become perceived as a red-state thing. I know folks are saying that CLT is a right-wing operation. That’s not true at all, but you know. Haters gonna hate.”
Florida passed legislation this spring that approved the CLT as a qualification for state scholarships, and now high school students who take the CLT assessment test can upload their score results in their applications to Florida’s 12 state colleges.