Florida’s Public Universities’ Board Approves New College Entrance Exam – The Classic Learning Test

Florida’s Board of Governors voted on Friday to give its approval for the use of the Classic Learning Test (CLT) in college admissions, making Florida the first state university system to accept this alternative to the SAT and ACT, reported the New York Times. The CLT, a college entrance exam that gained popularity among Christian schools and conservative political groups, was launched in December 2015 and is currently accepted by over 250 colleges and universities across the United States.

This decision was made by the 17-member governing body for Florida’s public universities, with 14 of the members being appointed by Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. It represents the state’s latest effort to bring about changes in its education system. However, University of Florida associate professor Amanda Phalin, a board member, opposed the approval, expressing her desire to see more data regarding the CLT’s effectiveness as an admissions measure.

The CLT is a three-section, two-hour exam that assesses students’ verbal reasoning, grammar and writing skills, as well as quantitative reasoning. It offers students the ability to access their scores on the same day as the test. In contrast, the ACT lasts just under three hours, and the SAT takes around three hours. The creators of the CLT claim that their test draws on sources that have contributed to the development of Western intellectual thought, utilizing writings from time-honored authors dating as far back as 400 B.C. to the present day. This differs from the SAT and ACT, which primarily feature passages from more recent decades, according to the test’s 2018 technical report.

In April, the group behind the CLT published a concordance report, comparing their test to the SAT. This report concluded that the two tests cover similar content and measure similar skills. However, the College Board, which administers the SAT, conducted its own research and published a report in July, stating that the two tests are constructed around different curricula and standards. The College Board emphasized the validity and predictiveness of the SAT based on years of research and data, while asserting that the CLT has not provided evidence of the same.

Furthermore, the College Board found that the two exams do not assess math on the same grade level, with 25% of questions in a published CLT practice test being below high school grade level. This latest decision by the Florida Board of Governors represents another chapter in the ongoing conflict between Governor DeSantis and the College Board. Earlier this year, the Florida Department of Education vetoed a new AP course on African American studies offered by the College Board, citing a violation of state law and a lack of educational value. Changes were subsequently made to the course by the College Board in response to the criticism.

It is worth noting that prior to the recent vote, the CLT had already begun to gain traction in Florida’s higher education system. Legislation passed last spring authorized school districts to administer the CLT and allowed the test to be considered for state scholarships. Additionally, New College of Florida, whose Board of Trustees is now predominantly composed of DeSantis-appointed conservatives, was the first public university to indicate its acceptance of the CLT for college admissions, pending board approval. New College has become a focal point for the 2024 Republican presidential candidate, who aims to eliminate what he refers to as “woke” indoctrination from Florida’s education system.

In conclusion, Florida’s Board of Governors has made history by approving the use of the CLT as an alternative to the SAT and ACT in college admissions. This decision represents a significant change in Florida’s education system and has sparked a debate surrounding the efficacy of the CLT compared to the established standardized tests.

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