BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Board of Regents discussed revisions to its admissions standards policy today in response to the Board’s 2019 request for a full policy review, but asked to defer the issue until next month. The policy changes considered include an opportunity for campuses to use demonstrated student success to petition for additional exceptions and penalties for Regents’ consideration if future violations occur.
“The policy improvements proposed retain the Regents’ steadfast commitment to have students admitted where they can be most successful,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. “We undertook a thoughtful review of this issue and I am pleased with the collaborative process to date, but we want to ensure everyone is comfortable with the final policy we will present next month,” said Reed.
Regents announced an audit of all four-year universities in August of 2018 aimed at measuring compliance with the state’s minimum admissions standards. The audit, conducted in the Spring of 2019, found that LSU exceeded Regents’ allowable exceptions. Additionally, several campuses were found to have incomplete documentation regarding student exceptions, but no significant violations. This triggered the requested comprehensive policy review, which included an analysis of enrollment data, engagement with system and campus chief academic officers and a review of policies in other states.
Regents’ staff is recommending that minimum admissions 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. Within Regents’ standards is an allowance for admission of students by exception at each four-year institution.
The proposed amendments presented today to the Regents’ Statewide Minimum Admissions Standards Policy include allowance of successful summer enrollment to meet admission standards, guidance for non-resident eligibility and an increase in non-resident exceptions, and a graduated penalty schedule for policy violations.
“I am ready to move forward on this issue, but I certainly want all involved to be confident with our policy,” said Board of Regents Chairman Marty J. Chabert. “Commissioner Reed and her staff took comprehensive look at how admissions works for both students and the campuses and they stand ready to provide any additional information requested by our members.”
Highlights of the proposed policy changes include:
Minimum Admissions Standards Annual Review & Penalties
Annual reporting using a two-year rolling average of exceptions data by each campus.
Annual audits to be conducted on selected institutions.
Institutions whose two-year average exceeds the allowed admissions exceptions by 1 percentage point will be flagged for non-compliance.
Regents will review non-compliance and will consider the following graduated penalties in accordance with severity, repetition and/or systemic nature of the violation:
- Year One-an institution that exceeds the admissions 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 additional reduction of formula funding mentioned above.
In all cases, the management board would be engaged to address campus noncompliance.
Non-Resident Allowable Exceptions
In addition to providing guidance on the allowable admissions standards for non-resident students, the policy allows 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.
Petition to Change Exception Allowances (Beginning in 2021)
Universities who can demonstrate that student supports are in place and show historical performance of students admitted by exception over a minimum three-year period can petition for changes to exception allowances through a two-year pilot.
In other Board actions, Regents received a study requested by the Louisiana Legislature focused on meeting oral health needs through the establishment of a new school of dentistry in north Louisiana. The Board will submit the study to the Senate Education Committee of the Louisiana Legislature once the LSU System has provided additional information and a response.
The study identified a clear need for increased access to dental care in the northern regions of the state, but did not find sufficient evidence to support the establishment of a new school of dentistry.
To address needed access to dental care, the study recommended:
- Development of additional clinical offerings through partnerships between LSU Health Sciences Center – New Orleans School of Dentistry, LSU Health Sciences Center – Shreveport, the University of Louisiana Monroe and Southern University Shreveport, to better serve the health care needs, including the dental needs, of rural communities in north Louisiana.
- Increased funding for the Rural Scholars Track Program (RST), designed to increase the number of dentists who practice in rural areas. RST recipients receive tuition waivers when they commit to practicing in rural areas of Louisiana upon graduation.