Regent Gary Scherrer’s committee has spent several years developing the new standards and meeting with KS superintendents. This "beefed up" college curriculum could be difficult for some small rural schools to offer.
As a result—and what is not mentioned in the Board of Regents press release—is that the "window" to let in students who do not meet the new Qualified Admissions curriculum will be half again larger, expanding from 10 to 15 percent of freshman admissions.
Under the old criteria, if a student did not have the regent’s curriculum OR an ACT of 21 or higher, OR equivalent SAT OR was not in the upper third of their class, then students who could not make ANY of these could be admitted in the 10 percent window.
Currently KU admits only a little over 3 percent, but two other state universities are maxed out, admitting nearly their full 10 percent.
The new criteria require the regents curriculum FOR ALL STUDENTS...and then require one of the others: ACT OR SAT OR top one-third. But NOW, 15 percent of a university’s freshmen can be unqualified.
There are two down sides to opening the gate to more unqualified students.
The first is economics. In the 1980s, a little over 40 percent of Kansas high school graduates continued on to attend tertiary institutions.
Today, that percentage is over 70 percent.
Yet only 40 percent of high school students are college-able, not requiring remedial courses. The result is that the state money that matched student tuition about 2-to-1 is now spread out among many non-college-able students, only providing about 1-to-1 support for actual teaching costs.
The good Kansas college student is paying more tuition because the state is subsidizing many classmates who are not college-able.
ACT estimates that only one-fourth of the students who take the ACT test in Kansas are college-ready. Another national study reveals that 60% of incoming college students need remedial coursework. Ant the American Institute for Research estimates that Kansas taxpayers spent more than 93 million dollars on students who dropped out after just one year of college.
The second problem is the pressure the Regents and legislators are putting on state universities to retain more entering students.
KU has the right idea with their desire to raise admissions requirements.
When you take fewer students who are not college-able, more students graduate.
But other state universities are more tuition driven. Opening the window wider tostudents who are less likely to succeed, combined with pressure to retain, will force grade inflation and cheapen the value of the degree, a disservice to the good students.
Reportedly, a student with an ACT score of 10 was recently admitted through one university’s 10 percent exemption window.
No student with ACT scores of 10 or even 14 or 15 can legitimately earn a bonafide bachelors degree. And if one-in-10 students with an ACT score of 19 or 20 can succeed, can Kansas afford today to underwrite the other 9 students who cannot? Now is the time to establish a "hard 21" for admission to state universities, for both entering freshman and transfer students, and to phase it in by closing the exemption window by 1 percent each year.
But opening the window to 15 percent unravels much of the benefit of the tighter standards, perpetuates a waste of taxpayer money, costs good Kansas students more in tuition, and will erode the value of university degrees in Kansas.