Florida approves Classic Learning Test as alternative to SAT and ACT

Florida’s Board of Governors has officially approved the Classic Learning Test (CLT) for use as a college entrance exam.

The 17-member board, which governs Florida’s 12 colleges and…

Florida’s Board of Governors has officially approved the Classic Learning Test (CLT) for use as a college entrance exam.

The 17-member board, which governs Florida’s 12 colleges and universities, voted Sept. 8 to approve CLT as an alternative to the SAT and ACT.

“Today’s decision means we are better serving students by giving them an opportunity to showcase their academic potential and paving a path to higher education,” said the State University System of Florida in a press release. “As this assessment focuses on critical thinking skills, Florida will lead the way in filling our state and nation with bright and competitive students.”

CLT was founded in 2015 to “reconnect knowledge and virtue by providing meaningful assessments and connections to seekers of truth, goodness, and beauty.” 

“Unlike other tests that change according to educational or cultural trends, CLT exams emphasize foundational critical thinking skills and are accessible to students from a variety of educational backgrounds,” the official website states. 

Besides testing for college readiness, other versions of the test can assess elementary, middle, and high school students. 

The tests are divided into three sections: verbal reasoning, grammar/writing and quantitative reasoning. In a sample CLT, students are required to analyze passages from authors such as Aristotle, Adam Smith, Benjamin Franklin, Pope John Paul II and Friedrich Nietzsche. 

“By expanding students’ options for admissions testing at its public universities, Florida is creating more opportunities for students to showcase their academic potential and reach their college goals,” Taryn Boyes, director of marketing at CLT, told The Lion. “Students from a variety of educational backgrounds – including homeschool, charter, private, and more – now have increased power of choice when it comes to demonstrating their college readiness.”  

Florida’s approval of the CLT is especially timely as the traditional college entrance exams are losing support. 

The SAT and ACT were founded in 1926 and 1959, respectively, but began falling out of favor when recent studies revealed they were poor predictors of college success. 

One analysis even found a correlation between higher ACT scores and lower college graduation rates. 

Even the California university system is moving away from the SAT and ACT. 

The CLT is already approved by over 250 universities in 44 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. 

It’s not without its critics, however. 

“I’m not against allowing the use of the CLT,” said Amanda Phalin, a Florida university professor. “I oppose the use of it at this time because we do not have the empirical evidence to show that this assessment is of the same quality as the ACT and the SAT.”  

College Board, the non-profit which manages the SAT, also criticized the new classical assessment.  

“The SAT is a proven, valid predictor of college performance based on years of published and accessible research and data,” College Board said in July. “CLT has not published evidence of validity or predictiveness of college performance.” 

However, CLT’s research shows that the classic test is “on-par with the College Board’s standard for college readiness,” according to Boyes. 

“While the ACT and SAT are solely achievement-based exams (assessing how well a student has mastered a body of content or academic standards), the CLT is both an achievement and aptitude-based exam (also assessing a student’s potential and ability to think critically and problem-solve),” Boyes told The Lion. “Because of this, the CLT offers a more comprehensive reflection of a students’ abilities. 

“It is also more accessible to students through its online, at-home testing option, and can better serve students from a variety of educational backgrounds,” she added. 

In May, Gov. Ron DeSantis also signed a bill which provides funding for high school juniors to take the CLT.