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Effect of Florida's decision on 'Classic Learning Test' for admissions

Florida adopts "Classic Learning Test," sparking debate on standardized testing and colleges going "testing-optional."
Effect of Florida's decision on 'Classic Learning Test' for admissions
Posted at 3:41 PM, Oct 08, 2023

Every year, millions of students across the country prepare for college by writing essays, adding extracurriculars, and preparing for standardized testing.

But in Florida, testing prep isn't the same thing this year.

In September, the governing board for Florida's state university system approved use of the Classical Learning Test, or "CLT," for undergraduate admissions. Florida is the first state to do so on a wide scale.

Students seeking entry to Florida's 12 public universities will now be able to apply with an ACT, SAT, or CLT score.

In announcing its approval, the governing board released a statement saying, "Not intimidated by controversy or critics, our focus is on the success of our students and the State of Florida."

The controversy is focused on the content within the test, which critics say focuses too heavily on religious texts and writings and claims overemphasizes Christian sources.

The test has been primarily used for home-schooled students and approved by private Christian universities.

The list of authors included on the exam does include a variety of sources, from Ida B. Wells to the ancient poem "The Epic of Gilgamesh." It also heavily features Judeo-Christian writers such as Saint Augustine and Martin Luther.

The website for the CLT defines 'classic' as "ideas and texts which have withstood the test of time, proving their value, influence, and appeal to generation after generation."

SEE MORE: California colleges imagine a world where degrees come without classes

The one person on the governing board who voted against approving the test argued the content was not the concern, but the lack of evidence that it tests at the same level of preparedness as the SAT and ACT.

The approval of the test comes amid ongoing tensions between Governor DeSantis and the College Board, which administers the SAT.

But Florida is not the only state that has been considering or has already rolled out alternatives to the SAT and ACT.

For example, the "Smarter Balanced Exam" is being considered or accepted by colleges in California and South Dakota.

It's already the state standard in several other states across grade levels, from elementary to high school.

There has been much debate over the usefulness of standardized testing for many years.

Studies have found that strong scores aren't a better predictor of first-year college success than high school GPA, and the results can exaggerate divisions by race and family income.

The pandemic led colleges across the country to waive standardized testing requirements.

More than 1,900 colleges and universities are extending the policy, remaining test-optional through 2023-2024.

Some of those colleges, like the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and WilLiam & Mary, have decided they would go test-optional indefinitely.

It's too soon to tell if the 'Classic Learning Test' will gain national momentum like other standardized testing alternatives.

But as people are dealing with the shake-up of the pandemic and with political debates being waged in school board meetings, most agree that curriculums and testing across the country could continue to see some major shifts in the years to come.

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