Florida Approves College Admissions Test Based on 'Reading, Writing, and Critical Thinking' Skills


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit held at the Tampa Convention Center on July 22, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


Florida’s public university system has made a groundbreaking decision to accept the Classic Learning Test (CLT) as an alternative to the SAT for college admissions.

The CLT, backed primarily by Christian schools and conservative political groups, was introduced in 2015 and is accepted by over 250 American colleges and universities. Described as a “$59 online test,” it comprises “a three-section, two-hour exam that assesses verbal reasoning, grammar and writing as well as quantitative reasoning.” One of the key advantages of the CLT is that students can view their scores on the same day they complete the test.

The decision to approve the CLT was made by the Board of Governors, 14 of whom were appointed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. The CLT is seen as aligning with a classical liberal arts curriculum, with a strong focus on reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. As stated by Ray Rodrigues, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida, some educators and institutions believe this provides a more well-rounded and meaningful education.

This move allows applicants to Florida’s 12 public universities to apply with an ACT, SAT, or CLT score. Additionally, those hoping to qualify for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program can also submit CLT test scores.

However, the decision was not without controversy. Amanda Phalin, a University of Florida associate professor and board member, was the only dissenting vote. She expressed concerns about the relatively new test, comparing it to the current standardized tests which are taken by over a million students each year and subject to constant examination and refinement. Phalin supports the use of the CLT but believes there is insufficient empirical evidence to show that it is of the same quality as the ACT and SAT.

Nevertheless, the Board remains confident in its decision, stating on the school system’s website that it was “not intimidated by controversy or critics.” They believe the addition of the CLT to the college admission process will reach a wider variety of students from different educational backgrounds, rejecting the status quo and better serving students by giving them an opportunity to showcase their academic potential.


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