Florida’s public university system on Friday voted to approve the Classic Learning Test (CLT), a college entrance exam, making it the first state to accept an alternative to the SAT.

Backed by Christian schools and conservative political groups, the CLT was first introduced in December 2015 and is currently accepted by over 250 American colleges and universities, according to its website. The $59 online test consists of a three-section, two-hour exam that assesses verbal reasoning, grammar and writing as well as quantitative reasoning.

Students will also have the ability to view their scores the same day they complete the test.

“The CLT places a strong emphasis on classical education, which includes a focus on reading, writing, and critical thinking skills,” Ray Rodrigues, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida, said in a statement, as reported by Reuters. “It is designed to align with a classical liberal arts curriculum, which some educators and institutions believe provides a more well-rounded and meaningful education.”

Fourteen of the Board of Governors, who voted to approve the test, were appointed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis has repeatedly challenged the nonprofit College Board by calling for a ban on the organization’s new Advanced Placement( AP) high school curriculum in African American Studies and by advocating for restrictions on LGBTQ+ material in the classroom .

Those seeking entry to Florida’s 12 public universities will now be able apply with an ACT, SAT or CLT score. Applicants hoping to qualify for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program, a lottery-funded scholarship that honors Florida high school graduates for high academic achievement, may also submit CLT test scores. 

The only vote of dissension came from board member Amanda Phalin, a University of Florida associate professor, who raised several concerns over just how much is known about the relatively new test.

Phalin compared the CLT with the current standardized tests, which she said are taken by more than a million students each year and undergo constant examination and refinement. 

“I’m not against allowing the use of the CLT,” Phalin said. “I oppose the use of it at this time because we do not have the empirical evidence to show that this assessment is of the same quality as the ACT and the SAT.”

In a statement published on the school system’s website, the Board celebrated the addition of the CLT to its college admission process, saying that it was “not intimidated by controversy or critics.”

“The system is pleased to add the CLT to reach a wider variety of students from different educational backgrounds,” they wrote. “Because we reject the status quo, today’s decision means we are better serving students by giving them an opportunity to showcase their academic potential and paving the path to higher education.”

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