Board of Governors for Florida's public universities approve new Classic Learning Test college entrance exam

CLT is popular among Christian schools, conservative political groups
Florida Atlantic University campus, Feb. 16, 2023
Posted at 9:43 PM, Sep 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-08 21:52:22-04

Florida's Board of Governors voted Friday to approve the use of results from the Classic Learning Test, or CLT, in college admissions.

The approval makes Florida the first state university system to accept the SAT and ACT alternative, the New York Times reported.

The CLT is a college entrance exam popular among Christian schools and conservative political groups. First launched in December 2015, the test is currently accepted by more than 250 colleges and universities across the United States, according to its website.

The vote from the 17-member governing body for Florida's public universities — 14 of whom were appointed by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — marked the state's latest attempt to change its education system.

One board member, University of Florida associate professor Amanda Phalin, opposed the approval, saying she'd like to see more data about the CLT's effectiveness as a measure for admissions.

University of Florida campus.jpg


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"I'm not against allowing the use of the CLT," Phalin said. "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."

The three-section, two-hour exam tests students on verbal reasoning, grammar and writing as well as quantitative reasoning, and allows students to access scores the same day of their test, the CLT's website states.

The ACT lasts just under three hours and the SAT takes around three hours, by comparison.

The CLT's creators say it "draws on sources that have helped shape the course of Western intellectual thought" and "looks to writings by time-honored authors writing from c. 400 B.C. to the present day," differing from the SAT and ACT's use of passages from more recent decades, according to the test's 2018 technical report.

The group behind the CLT published a concordance report in April comparing its test to the SAT. The report stated that the two tests "cover similar content that measures similar skills, and computed the correlation between both the total scores and each section score."

The College Board did its own research published in July that found the two tests "are constructed around different curricula and standards."

"The SAT is a proven, valid predictor of college performance based on years of published and accessible research and data. CLT has not published evidence of validity or predictiveness of college performance," the College Board stated in its report.

The board also said a preliminary analysis found that the two exams do not test math on the same grade level.

"In reviewing a published CLT practice test, we found that 25% of questions were below high school grade level," according to the College Board.

Friday’s vote marks the latest chapter in an ongoing fight between DeSantis and the College Board, the organization that administers the SAT and Advanced Placement (AP) classes.

Earlier this year, The Florida Department of Education blocked a new AP course for high school students on African American studies, saying it violated state law and lacked educational value. The College Board made changes to the course amid the criticism.

The CLT had already begun making its way into Florida’s higher education system prior to Friday's vote.

Florida passed legislation last spring authorizing school districts to administer the CLT. The bill also allows the test to be used in students' consideration for state scholarships.

New College of Florida, with its Board of Trustees now dominated by DeSantis-appointed conservatives, was the first public university to signal acceptance of the CLT for college admissions, pending board approval.

New College has become a focal point of the 2024 Republican presidential candidate as he works to rid education in Florida of what he calls “woke” indoctrination.

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