BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Board of Regents adopted revisions to its minimum admission standards policy today in response to the Board’s 2019 request for a full policy review. The policy changes include an opportunity for campuses to use demonstrated student success to petition for additional exceptions and penalties for Regents’ consideration if future violations occur.
“Today’s policy improvements retain the Regents’ steadfast commitment to have students admitted where they can be most successful,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Kim Hunter Reed. “We undertook a thorough review of this issue and I appreciate the collaborative process that resulted in today’s actions,” said Reed.
The changes adopted today are designed to bring additional clarity to minimum admission standards statewide as well as provide opportunities for campuses to remove students from exception consideration based on academic success. The Board of Regents considered updates to the policy last month but deferred action until today’s meeting.
Regents’ minimum admission standards remain unchanged and continue to include completion of a college prep core curriculum plus a specified minimum GPA OR a specified minimum ACT score (graduated by institution and type), with LSU (as the state’s flagship) having the highest minimum standards. The Presidents, or a representative, from all four college and university systems were in attendance for today’s vote and spoke in favor of the policy and its intent.
The main policy updates are as follows:
Focus on Student Success
- Campuses would have two opportunities to remove students from exception counts based on academic success:
- If the student successfully completes at least 6 credits of college-level coursework (including English or Math) and achieves a minimum 2.3 Summer GPA with a “C” grade or higher in English or Math.
- If the student successfully completes at least 12 credit hours of college-level coursework (including English or Math) in the first term and achieves a minimum 2.3 cumulative GPA with a grade of “C” or higher in either Math or English.
- The policy provides guidance on the allowable admission standards for non-resident students, allowing institutions to admit up to 100 additional non-resident exceptions in response to campus interest in increasing enrollment of out-of-state and international students.
- The policy expands transfer exception allowances for statewide and regional institutions.
Accountability and Compliance
- The policy requires annual reporting by campuses using a two-year rolling average of exceptions data with annual audits to be conducted on selected institutions.
- Institutions whose two-year average exceeds the allowed admissions exceptions by 1 percentage point (i.e. institution has a 9% exception rate average, but has an exception allowance of 8%) would be flagged for non-compliance and Board review.
- The policy also allows for optional graduated penalties for non-compliance in accordance with severity, repetition and/or systemic nature of the violation:
- Year One-an institution that exceeds the admission exceptions may have the next year’s exceptions enrollment limit reduced by the number of students that exceeded the limit. For instance, if the exceptions limit is 100 students and the institution enrolls 110 students, in the next year, that institution would be allowed to admit only 90 students by exception.
- Year Two-an institution that exceeds the admission exceptions limits for two consecutive years may be penalized through a reduction of state general funds allocated through the Outcomes-Based Funding Formula.
- Year Three-an institution that exceeds the admission exceptions limits for three consecutive years may be penalized with a reduction in state general funds equivalent to tuition and fee revenue based on the number of admissions that exceeded the limit plus the reduction of formula funding mentioned above.
In all cases, the appropriate management board would be engaged to address campus non-compliance.
The policy also allows institutions to petition for additional exceptions based on a three-year history of strong academic performance for students admitted by exception, along with demonstrated infrastructure in place to support underprepared students.
“Regents is ready to move forward using this updated policy as a guidepost for improving student success and ensuring Louisiana prospers,” said Board of Regents Chairman Marty J. Chabert. “This has been a great opportunity to take a comprehensive look at how admission works for both students and the campuses, and I’m positive our institutions will continue to partner with us as we focus on increasing attainment in support of our Master Plan.”
In other Board action, Regents received a report responding to two legislative study resolutions regarding the need for additional legal education in the Shreveport/Bossier area as well as an assessment of potential start-up and operating costs for a new law school.
The study, conducted by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS), said, “On a per capita basis (in comparison with other states), Louisiana has a lot of law schools and a lot of law school graduates. The state does not have a capacity problem; it has a distribution problem.” Further, the report goes on to conclude, “There is little compelling evidence that a new law school is warranted in the Shreveport/Bossier region.”
The report, as requested by the study resolution, did outline additional legal educational opportunities in the Shreveport area including a branch campus of Southern University Law School as well as relocating Southern’s Law School from Baton Rouge to Shreveport. The cost associated with a branch campus is estimated at $5 million in annual operating costs after a $14.7 million capital outlay investment. Additionally, both options would include significant accreditation considerations from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) as well as the American Bar Association.
However, the study did note that the northwestern region of the state is underserved in opportunities for graduate and professional-level education. Several individuals interviewed by NCHEMS indicated they would prioritize professions like nursing, dentistry or engineering over legal education.
“Regents has a responsibility to analyze regional education and training needs and to prioritize the highest and best use of state resources as we focus on increased talent development,” said Commissioner Reed. “I am committed to continued discussions with this community to determine which programs and degrees could enhance the northwest region’s economy and increase its prosperity.”
Given the findings in the report, Regents discussion focused on two key recommendations in the report including:
- No new law school be established in the Shreveport/Bossier region; and
- A comprehensive study of graduate program needs in the region be undertaken, given community interest expressed in law, health care (dental) and engineering programs. The analysis should look at workforce demand as well as higher education offerings in the area.
The Board requested further reports and feedback from the Caddo Commission, the Southern University Law School and other systems across the state.