In the belief that the SAT and ACT measure the wrong kind of learning, the CLT (Classic Learning Test) is intended to guide education back to what it considers real wisdom in the form of the classics (“The SAT and ACT Have a Classical Competitor,” The Wall Street Journal, Apr. 24). More than 150 colleges in the U.S., Canada, and Spain now offer students the option of submitting CLT scores for admission.
Yet from a pedagogical point of view, the use of the CLT is indefensible. Unless a test is carefully aligned with the curriculum, it is not assessing what students have learned in class but instead what they bring to class in the form of their socioeconomic backgrounds. Since schools today are under enormous pressure to prepare students for college or career, the overwhelming majority are going to emphasize knowledge and skills that are most in demand.
The classics no longer appeal to most students since they see little, if any, relevance to their lives. That doesn’t mean the classics shouldn’t be taught, but it’s unlikely they will find many students interested. The humanities are already losing students, and with the decline some colleges are closing such departments. I expect the trend to accelerate as the cost of a college degree continues to rise.
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