At DeSantis' Behest, Colleges Add Untested Admissions Exam

Classic Learning Test has mostly been accepted by private schools
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2023 2:35 PM CDT
At DeSantis' Behest, Colleges Add Untested Admissions Exam
Florida State University in Tallahassee   (Getty/benkrut)

Florida's state university system has endorsed accepting the results of the little-known Classic Learning Test in its undergraduate admissions process, a step in Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' efforts to change public education at all levels. The test becomes an alternative to the long-accepted SAT and ACT, the New York Times reports. The decision was made in a vote Friday by the governing body for the public universities, 14 of whose 17 members were appointed by DeSantis, per CNN. The faculty representative objected. "I'm not against allowing the use of the CLT," said Amanda Phalin, a University of Florida business 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."

The exam—which is heavier on Christian thought than the other tests and lighter on contemporary fiction, for example—is mostly taken now by religious home-schoolers and accepted by private schools, largely religious colleges. The CLT began in 2015 as a for-profit company, and there's not much documentation on how well the test forecasts success in college. The company's website says the exam takes two hours, about an hour less than the ACT or SAT, and tests students on verbal reasoning, grammar, writing, and quantitative reasoning. Students can learn their scores the same day they take the test, the site says.

The group released a report in April that says the CLT and SAT test for similar skills. In July, the College Board countered that with research showing the exams have different standards. In a published CLT practice test, the board said, "25% of questions were below high school grade level." Echoing Phalin's point, the College Board said it found no evidence of the exam's validity. Jeremy Tate, who founded the company, said the authors cited have been diversified. He maintains the test is apolitical, though its backers are mostly on the same side of the spectrum as DeSantis, per the Times. "This kind of education really does transcend ideology and contemporary politics," he said. (More college admissions stories.)

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