Florida college to be first in state to offer exam rooted in classical, Christian values

iStock/Caiaimage/Chris Ryan
iStock/Caiaimage/Chris Ryan

A public university in Florida will allow students to submit test scores from a college entrance exam that is said to be more rooted in Western classical and Christian traditions as an alternative to the ACT and SAT.

New College of Florida announced that it plans to become the first public university in the state to accept Classic Learning Test scores in place of the ACT or SAT by fall 2024. 

Students can still submit ACT and SAT test scores as part of the admissions process. 

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“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,” New College Interim President Richard Corcoran stated in a press release shared with The Christian Post on Wednesday. 

“Not only is this a tremendous opportunity for New College, but with the growing popularity of the CLT among Florida homeschoolers and classically educated students, we believe this is an exciting step for educational choice and freedom in our state as well."

CLT is intended for high school juniors and seniors, emphasizing critical thinking skills by assessing students on English, grammar and mathematics.

The test is designed to apply to students of a variety of educational backgrounds, such as students who were homeschooled or went to private or charter schools. 

At present, around 200 colleges nationwide accept CLT scores, including the conservative Christian Hillsdale College in Michigan. 

Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, believes that the decision shows Florida is “leading in the sphere of education freedom.” 

“For too long, testing companies like the SAT have enjoyed near-monopoly status, limiting students' options for demonstrating academic ability to assessments designed by the increasingly woke College Board,” Burke told CP in a Wednesday statement.

“New College's acceptance of the Classical Learning Test as a measure of student preparedness for admission is a welcome development.” 

Burke added, "CLT's focus on foundational math and reading ability through the use of classical texts provides a rigorous assessment of students' ability to navigate college-level work and their overall academic achievement, and does so without falling prey to leftist cultural trends that have dominated higher education." 

Jeremy Tate, the founder and CEO of CLT, told The Tampa Bay Times in an interview earlier this year that the exam offers an alternative to the SAT administered by the College Board, which he believes has wrongfully “censored the entire Christian-Catholic intellectual tradition” and other “thinkers in the history of Western thought.”

Chad Pecknold, associate professor of Systematic Theology at the Catholic University of America and member of the CLT Board of Academic Advisors, tweeted in February that the test "orients people to the perennial truths of the great classical and Christian tradition."

CLT is included in House Bill 1537, an education bill awaiting Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature. The legislation would allow school districts to offer the CLT in addition to allowing students to use volunteer or work hours to meet certain eligibility requirements for scholarship programs. 

The Republican governor recently unveiled a number of reforms to the state’s higher education system, including tightened controls on faculty tenure and the elimination of curriculum based on Critical Race Theory. 

DeSantis laid out several proposals during a media briefing earlier this year at the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota. The proposal to establish tighter controls on faculty tenure would reportedly allow Florida university boards and presidents to review tenured faculty "at any time." The Florida governor stated that he wants to return "authority over the hiring process" back to university presidents.

"We are also going to eliminate all DEI and CRT bureaucracies in the state of Florida," he said. "No funding, and that will wither on the vine. And I think that's very important because it really serves as an ideological filter, a political filter." 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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