Do you remember taking the ACT test? I do. It was a brisk fall morning, and rows upon rows of us high school students were stuck inside, slaving over test questions, with no sounds but typing calculators, scratching pencils, and the tread of proctor feet moving slowly up and down the aisles.
Students today still take this college admissions test, but results are steadily trending downward. “Scores have been falling for six consecutive years,” a recent CBS News report explained, dropping to an average score of 19.5 this year.
Some blame COVID for the declining scores, while others hint that making tests such as the ACT/SAT optional are contributing to the decline.
But perhaps there’s another reason. Maybe the new kid on the block of college admissions tests is giving the standard ACT and SAT tests a run for their money.
It might be too soon to say that definitively, but the Classic Learning Test (CLT) is definitely making inroads. Established in 2015, the test seeks to draw from more classic literary texts–many of which are common in today’s classical education surge–than the more modern literature and texts used by the ACT/SAT. “CLT source matter goes back thousands of years to Plato and Aristotle and includes the most influential thinkers that have driven the development of thought and culture,” CLT founder Jeremy Wayne Tate explained in an interview earlier this year. He continued:
The greatest thinkers in history have been deeply concerned with questions of human existence and history: What is a good life? What is virtue? How does how I live affect how happy I am? Philosophers and theologians have written on these questions for millennia. However, the SAT/ACT neglect the great philosophical and theological traditions, which in turn leads to further neglect in the classroom. Imagine if every teacher/parent/school district knew they were likely to encounter Aristotle on the most important test? What would the impact be for what is taught in the classroom?
The classroom impact could eventually be huge, and indicators show that the CLT may already be influencing at least the College Board in framing SAT questions. As Phil Albonetti notes in the tweet below, he’s noticed that the SAT has begun drawing questions from classic texts itself, such as Beowulf, Anne of Green Gables, and The Hobbit.
I think you’ll appreciate this.
It looks like College Board has begun to change its passage selection in response to the @CLT_Exam. I’ve taught SAT prep for eight years now, and have read every practice passage they’ve given for the PSAT and SAT.
I taught a PSAT prep session… pic.twitter.com/eFsaQaIVzr
— Phil Albonetti (@PhilAlbonetti) September 23, 2023
“The SAT is a barometer for an education system that has lost its way,” Professor Zachary Marschall recently noted in a Fox News op-ed. “American education needs a counterrevolution and counterrevolutions are not about going backward or being stagnant. They succeed when groups restore traditional values with new tools or systems. The CLT is fit for this purpose.”
Perhaps more importantly, then, the rise of the CLT exposes the complete failure of today’s standard, woke education system, and signals the need for innovation and choice for today’s K-12 students. And that’s certainly not a bad thing.
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