Salvo 02.10.2023 3 minutes

The Classical Alternative Already Exists

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Freedom of choice can break the educational testing monopoly.

Auguste Meyrat is absolutely right in his desire for “A Conservative Classical College Board.” The College Board’s iron grip on the educational assessment market has allowed political actors to abuse their positions of trust in order to indoctrinate rather than illuminate. The good news is that an alternative to the College Board monopoly already exists, and it’s growing in popularity.

Founded in 2015, the Classic Learning Test (CLT) is accepted at more than 200 colleges and universities. CLT offers a suite of college assessment and preparatory exams that draw from the Western canon to evaluate student performance. It’s equivalent to the PSAT, SAT, and ACT, except it takes a critical thinking and logic-based approach to assess a student’s aptitude in a far more rigorous way.

The College Board was founded in 1900, so it has had more than a century to crowd out competitors in the educational market. Reaching institutions that have grown accustomed to dealing with only the College Board and convincing them of the need for change is a significant challenge.

After all, everyone is familiar with the College Board and its main products. We all know that 1,600 represents a perfect score on the SAT. Except the meaning of that score changes with the times, as the SAT continues dumbing itself down. Next year’s iteration cuts back on a student’s need to read or even to do simple math; the 2024 math SAT will, in effect, size up one’s ability to use a calculator.

The whole point of standardized testing is to have standards, and that means the test shouldn’t be manipulated over time to achieve political ends. I founded CLT to help reverse the disturbing trends that Meyrat has ably noted. Rather than being swept up by the latest fads in education, the Classic Learning Test stands apart from the whims of partisanship and finds refuge in texts that have stood the test of time and proved their worth to generations of students.

The failings of the 20th century’s departure from tradition and its experiment with factory-style education are now apparent. Many parents have recognized the value of re-embracing the educational path that cultivates wonder, and their positive response to classical learning has been overwhelming.

Conventional universities find themselves in the midst of an enrollment crisis, and their reaction has been to raise already outrageous tuition fees to more than make up for their declining revenue. By contrast, the biggest problem classically-minded colleges face is the length of their waiting lists, as demand surges for more reasonably priced, and more desirable, educational offerings. At the K-12 level, classical schools can’t be built fast enough to serve the needs of parents desperate to provide a better future for their children.

CLT is supporting these efforts by expanding our testing options. We’ve recently announced assessments covering grades 3 through 6 that are carefully designed to encourage curiosity about what is true, good, and beautiful in young learners. Our existing products cover grades 7 through 12, and we will keep expanding as long as parents and schools embrace the idea of choice in testing.

The College Board has had a 100-year head start in building its brand, but we’re catching up fast. Those who agree that it’s time to shake up the educational testing monopoly can help by spreading the word.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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