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Regents report recommends keeping Classic Learning Test out of admissions • Iowa Capital Dispatch

A draft report to the Iowa Board of Regents recommends excluding from state universities’ admissions formula a standardized test used mostly by home-schooled or private school students.

The report recommends the Classic Learning Test be used for individual admissions decisions and not be included in the Regent Admission Index until more data is available to determine its viability.

The board’s Academic Affairs Committee asked board staff and the universities in September to research the Classic Learning Test. An admissions study team was formed and reviewed the standardized test to see whether it would be useful in determining admissions to the state institutions.

The team and Iowa State University experts on statistics and psychometrics researched the test’s background and how it compares to the traditional standardized tests. The group found students taking it weren’t representative of students wishing to attend a state university. They also found a lack of evidence connecting the test to student outcomes and its use for course placements.

When more information on those who take the test and their outcomes is available, the study team said in the report draft it should evaluate the test and whether it would fit in the regents universities’ admissions formula.

“The team located no evidence to support the predictive efficacy of the CLT, particularly for students at institutions like ISU, SUI and UNI,” the report draft stated.


Students wishing to attend the University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa or Iowa State University are evaluated for admission through the Regent Admission Index, a formula factoring in a student’s grade-point average, ACT or SAT score and number of completed required high school courses. If their score comes out to 245 or higher, they receive automatic admission.

If a student doesn’t get the minimum RAI score, they can have an individual academic review. There is also a test option for students who don’t submit ACT or SAT scores.

The report draft stated that the data factored into the RAI formula “strongly predict success in terms of academic performance, retention to second or third year, and graduation from the universities,” and is evaluated regularly and adjusted accordingly to keep working like it should for students.

Launched in 2015, the Classic Learning Test is a set of standardized tests evaluating reading, grammar and math that, according to its website, focus on “foundational critical thinking skills” and are accessible to students across different educational backgrounds.

At least 25,000 students have taken the Classic Learning Test since its creation, the study team stated in its report draft, compared to the 1.9 million SAT and 1.4 million ACT takers in the past year alone. In statistical samples of students who have taken the Classic Learning Test, all were either home-schooled or attended a private school of some kind, which the report stated wasn’t representative of Iowa public university students.

In efforts to convert Classic Learning Test scores to the equivalent of an ACT or SAT score, the report stated there were issues with the test’s parent company’s methodology that challenge the validity of its numbers.

Without a large enough sample of Classic Learning Test scores and fully tested and validated equivalency tables, the report stated it would be “impossible” to compare them to ACT and SAT scores and use the admissions index formula for automatic admission.

Another point the report made was that there aren’t any data on how the Classic Learning Test correlates with student outcomes, and the test is too new to allow for research into graduation and retention rates. Studies that could be conducted would be on students attending private colleges rather than public universities, as that is where most of the students who have taken the test are.

“Even with the recent acceptance of CLT as an admissions test at the University of New Mexico, all public institutions in Florida, and select other public institutions, any study related to student outcomes at public colleges and universities will not happen for years,” the report draft stated.

There are six Iowa colleges listed on the Classic Learning Test’s website that accept its scores, including Dordt University, Northwestern College, Loras College, Briar Cliff University, Emmaus Bible College and Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary.

The fact there is no evidence that Classic Learning Test scores could be used to place students in English and math classes like SAT and ACT scores can is also “problematic,” the report stated.

The report was endorsed by the Council of Provosts ahead of the board’s April 24-25 meeting.

Community colleges and state universities would have been required to accept the Classic Learning Test in its admissions decisions under the “Higher Education Reform Act of 2024,” which was withdrawn in late February.

Lawmakers voiced their concerns about the standardized test, with Rep. Sharon Steckman, D-Mason City, saying in a February House Education meeting that in her research she found that statistics and other mathematical concepts were not tested in the Classic Learning Test. The College Board put out a report that said 25% of the test’s questions were not at a high school level, she said.

“I don’t think there’s enough information on CLT, just because they’re doing it in Florida doesn’t make it the best,” Steckman said in the meeting.

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