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Florida first state to accept Classic Learning Test as alternative to SAT, ACT

New College of Florida also adds test to acceptance options

Florida has become the first state in the nation to officially accept the Classic Learning Test as an alternative to SAT and ACT, the latter of which are considered ideologically slanted to the left.

The legislation, signed earlier this month by Gov. Ron DeSantis, makes the exam eligible as an option for students seeking to qualify for state-funded scholarships to Florida colleges and universities. It also allows school districts to offer the CLT to 11th graders.

“Today, I want to thank our legislative leaders and the many bill sponsors for working with us to empower our teachers and ushering in a new era of accountability to the people,” DeSantis said May 9 in a news release.

More than 200 colleges and universities nationwide accept the CLT, mostly Christian and Catholic institutions, according to its website. But Florida’s new law is seen by observers as a huge boon to the test.

A recent Washington Post article described the legislation as providing a “major boost in visibility and market access” for the test.

Jeremy Tate, founder and CEO of Classic Learning Initiatives, creator of the CLT, told the Post: “I don’t want to see the movement getting politically hijacked, in terms of CLT being a ‘red-state’ thing.”

In a phone interview with The College Fix, Tate said attempts to paint the CLT as a “far-right” and “Christian Nationalist” test are inaccurate and unfair.

The CLT was introduced in 2016 with a focus on questions from a classical liberal arts education in the wake of Common Core’s influence on the SAT.

The Classic Learning Test includes 120 questions with a 120-point scoring system. The test’s three sections are verbal reasoning, writing and quantitative reasoning. The reading and writing sections include selections on religion and philosophy as well as historical founding documents.

On the CLT website, readers can find an author bank that includes Sophocles, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Machiavelli, Marx, Gandhi, and more. The test, instead of a focus on contemporary political issues, prioritizes texts written by the likes of Dante and Homer, Tate told The Fix.

“Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another,” the initiative’s website states.

After the Florida law was passed, New College of Florida became the latest college to accept the test from high school applicants.

“As New College strives to become a world-class liberal arts educational institution, adding the CLT as an accepted testing option for admissions will ensure we are reaching and welcoming students from all walks of life,” said New College Interim President Richard Corcoran in a news release.

In early January, DeSantis appointed a new Board of Trustees at New College, billed as the first step in turning a campus that was once a stronghold of far-left progressivism into the “Hillsdale of the South.” Located in Sarasota, the college has already abolished its DEI program.

Tate told The College Fix that he anticipates a few more states will follow suit and adopt the CLT like Florida. Overall, the CLT will recruit a “great group of students” as they are challenged to interact with the best texts of the Western tradition, Tate said.

MORE: Gov. DeSantis signs law to defund, eliminate universities’ DEI programs

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About the Author
Rachel Culver -- The Master's University