Hillsdale Academy students are ranking high on the Classic Learning Initiative’s college entrance exams. Last month, Hillsdale Academy placed third in the Classic Learning Test’s national high school rankings by median score.
Classic Learning Initiative was founded by Jeremy Tate in 2015 when the SAT committed to return to the 1600 scale and align more closely with Common Core standards. Tate said his main goal was “to challenge the College Board, to put forth something better.”
The CLT differs from other standardized tests in length, format, and content. The test is two hours long and is usually administered by local schools like Hillsdale Academy.
Hillsdale Academy is now in its second year of administering the CLT to all of its 11th grade students.
“I am incredibly proud of our teachers and our students whose hard work over the years has been recognized nationally by this accomplishment,” Hillsdale Academy Headmaster David Diener said. “This is a high honor to be on this list.”
Founded in 1990, Hillsdale Academy is a classical Christian K‑12 private school that focuses on teaching primary texts.
Diener is in his second year as headmaster of the school and has been a speaker, writer, and educator in classical schools for the past decade. Additionally, he is currently on the board of academic advisors for the CLT.
“I whole-heartedly support CLT’s mission and vision,” Diener said. “CLT’s vision of education and what it should be is inspiring, and I hope it continues to grow.”
Classic Learning Initiative now offers three assessment tests: CLT8, CLT10, and CLT. The CLT8 assesses students before they enter high school, while the latter two are comparable to the PSAT and SAT.
Currently, 158 colleges accept CLT scores for admission, but Tate said massive growth is on the horizon.
“We do not want to exist as a niche product for just homeschool students or classically-educated students,” Tate said. “CLT wants to have more students in 2029 to take the CLT than either the SAT or the ACT.”
The test is broken down into three sections: verbal reasoning, grammar/writing, and quantitative reasoning. Each section has 40 questions, each worth one point.
The biggest difference, however, is the reading passages and concepts students encounter on the tests.
“The students say that the reading passages here are more substantive than those on the PSAT,” Hillsdale Academy Guidance Counselor Deanna Ducher said.
Diener said this distinction has an impact in the classroom as well.
“The SAT has unapologetically aligned itself with the Common Core. What the CLT has recognized is that testing drives curriculum,” Diener said.
“The kind of questions that are asked on the SAT and the skills students are expected to learn to have a real impact on what is taught in classrooms. What the CLT has identified is that those goals are at odds with the classical approach to education.”
Even though the achievement was noteworthy, Diener reiterated that Hillsdale Academy is more than impressive numbers on paper.
“Our high test scores are not what ultimately makes Hillsdale Academy a great place to learn and grow,” he said. “What makes us a great school is the cultivation of our students’ souls.”