Skip to content Skip to footer

Florida Education Board Set to Approve Christian-Centric Alternative to the SAT

The new exam that Florida is considering is “blatantly … guided by belief and ideology,” said one critic.

A student takes notes during a test in a university classroom.

The Florida Education Board of Governors is set to vote on whether to approve a new college entrance exam that critics contend places too much emphasis on Christian and Western thought.

The Classic Learning Test (CLT), which was created in 2015, is accepted as an exam entrance option by over 200 colleges and universities across the country, most of which are Christian. The test focuses heavily on literature and humanities from Western society, with a particular emphasis on Christian authors, and has been promoted as an alternative to the SAT and ACT exams.

The Board of Governors is scheduled to vote on Friday on whether the exam can be an option for students seeking to obtain a higher education in Florida.

The test appears to be best-suited for students of classical education, which centers on Western works of literature that are often taught using the Socratic method. Several classical education schools across the country, however, have pushed far right viewpoints and ideals in their lessons.

Michigan-based Hillsdale College, for example, which founded a number of K-12 classical education charter schools throughout the U.S., has pledged to fight against what it claims are “leftist” and “distorted” teachings of American history, promoting Christian nationalist viewpoints instead. The college also helped formulate former President Donald Trump’s “1776 Report” (his response to the more inclusive 1619 Project), which educators and racial justice advocates have condemned for peddling white nationalism and whitewashing historical wrongs that were orchestrated by the U.S. More recently, an affiliated school in Florida fired its principal after a lesson was allowed depicting Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture, which some parents claimed is obscene.

The company that manages the CLT says its mission is to “reconnect knowledge and virtue by providing meaningful assessments and connections to seekers of truth, goodness, and beauty.” The company also maintains that the test doesn’t have a political bent.

However, the language that CLT uses to describe itself — including its claim that it’s part of the “larger educational freedom movement of our time” — is strikingly similar to language employed by far right conservatives seeking to drastically alter the country’s education system.

An analysis of the test also suggests that, much like its secular counterparts (the SAT and the ACT), the CLT gives an unfair advantage to students who have more financial or educational resources.

Akil Bello, senior director of advocacy and advancement at FairTest, denounced the decision to include the CLT as a testing option in Florida in an op-ed for Forbes.

“The elevation of the Classic Learning Test…is the latest example of [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis’s very public attempts to remake public education to align with his vision,” Bello wrote.

Bello laid out a number of issues with standardized testing, stressing that standardized tests have resulted in inequitable outcomes for students of color. The CLT has the same issues, she said.

“What is new in the adoption of the CLT is how blatantly its proponents have shown that their support of this test is guided by belief and ideology,” Bello said, noting that CLT board members themselves have described it as a Christian alternative.

“By approving the CLT, Florida’s powers-that-be are signaling they care more about belief in what the test might do, rather than actuality of what it’s shown to do,” Bello added.

We need to update you on where Truthout stands.

To be brutally honest, Truthout is behind on our fundraising goals for the year. There are a lot of reasons why. We’re dealing with broad trends in our industry, trends that have led publications like Vice, BuzzFeed, and National Geographic to make painful cuts. Everyone is feeling the squeeze of inflation. And despite its lasting importance, news readership is declining.

To ensure we stay out of the red by the end of the year, we have a long way to go. Our future is threatened.

We’ve stayed online over two decades thanks to the support of our readers. Because you believe in the power of our work, share our transformative stories, and give to keep us going strong, we know we can make it through this tough moment.

If you value what we do and what we stand for, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our work.