Board of Regents to audit admission standards at Louisiana colleges

Louisiana

The body that sets higher education policy in Louisiana will examine whether public four-year universities are following the state’s minimum admission requirements.

The Board of Regents plans to start auditing admissions practices in January. The scrutiny comes as Louisiana State University softens its dependence on grade-point averages and test scores, in favor of personal essays, recommendations, and extra-curricular achievements.

“Given the heightened interest in admissions standards and the role of the Board of Regents in enforcing standards and expectations, now is clearly the time to take a deep dive into our institutions’ compliance,” Regents Chairman Robert Levy said in a statement.

Regents staff crafted minimum admission standards in 2001 and enacted them in 2005.

Since 2010, schools have been free to admit a set percentage of students who do not meet GPA or ACT thresholds but seem deserving of entry. (Regents allows LSU to admit 4 percent of its freshman class as exceptions; the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana Tech and the University of New Orleans may admit 6 percent of these students; regional schools including Southern University and Southeastern Louisiana University may admit 8 percent of these students.)

According to Regents officials, 1,062 of the 21,529 incoming college students were flagged as exceptions in the Fall 2017 semester. How successful those students — and ones like them — have been since they began school will remain central to the audit.

“Are they getting the support they need? Are they being able to step forward with their degrees? Are they completing their degrees? Are they moving into the workforce? Those are the kinds of questions we have to ask and answer in order to understand if the policy is working,” Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed told BRProud.com.

As part of their shift toward “holistic admission,” LSU admissions personnel no longer reject students for having lower than a 3.0 high school GPA and scoring below a 22 on the ACT college entrance exam. Critics claim the adjustment opens the state’s flagship school to less distinguished students. LSU President F. King Alexander has argued that grades and scores are not the sole indicators of student merit.

Regents hope to complete its college admissions audit by May or June. How the board would handle violations of standards remains unknown.

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