Topeka The Kansas Board of Regents is exploring a new proposal that might improve the chances of gaining legislative approval of a qualified admissions policy for state universities, regents officials said today.
Stanley Koplik, regents executive director, said the idea of supplementing proposed university entrance requirements with an achievement test for high school students who couldn't meet other entrance criteria "looks promising."
The idea of a test was advanced by Rep. Richard Reinhardt, D-Erie. Reinhardt is a former regent and is chairman of the Legislative Educational Planning Committee, a joint House-Senate panel that met today at the Statehouse with Koplik and three regents.
Reinhardt said the test could be one method of overcoming opposition among legislators to qualified admissions. Currently, anyone graduating from a Kansas high school can enter a regents institution, regardless of education background.
"THERE OUGHT to be some way to combat open admissions. A test may get rid of the hang-up some legislators have about closing the door," said Reinhardt, who has supported qualified admissions proposals as both a regent and state representative.
Qualified admissions isn't a new topic. For many years it has been the subject of intense debate in Kansas. Several years ago, the House came within three votes of passing a qualified admissions bill proposed by regents, said Regent Robert Creighton of Atwood.
Supporters of qualified admissions say it would help make certain that students entering state universities are prepared for college work. Opponents contend it would negatively impact educational opportunities in the state.
Koplik said regents staff discussed the possibility of implementing a testing system with John Poggio, director of a testing and evaluation center at Kansas University. He suggested using achievement tests being developed by the State Board of Education.
THE STATE board's math test is ready, the communications test will be finished in early 1992 and the science test should be completed by early 1993, Koplik said.
If the Legislature passed qualifications admissions in 1992, the new standards wouldn't apply under the current proposal until 1996, he said.
"The positive aspect of the test is that plans are already in place, and it would provide an opportunity for the state board and the Board of Regents to cooperate, which has not always been the case," Koplik said.
Creighton said the regents top legislative priority for the 1992 session will be qualified admissions.
He said the issue boils down to helping students succeed. He said high school students who complete the regents recommended curriculum English, math, science, foreign language courses tend to score better on college entrance exams and perform better in college classrooms.
REP. DON Crumbaker, R-Brewster, for many years has been an opponent of qualified admissions. He said it didn't make sense for the regents to require high school students to take foreign language courses as part of the qualified admissions curriculum without imposing a foreign language graduation requirement at all state universities.
Crumbaker said that if the foreign language element was deleted from the regents curriculum requirement quidelines, the qualified admissions proposal would stand a better chance of passing the Legislature.
Sen. Janis Lee, D-Kensington, rebuked regents for designating qualified admissions as the top priority of the state university system.
"I've been disappointed with the attitude of regents in the past. I'm sorry to say I'm just as disappointed today," Lee said.
She said regents should focus more on consolidating academic programs to reduce expenditures. For example, she said KU and Kansas State University shouldn't both operate architecture schools.
"CAN WE, as a state, continue to afford that?" she said.
Regent Donald Slawson of Wichita assured Lee that the regents would develop a long-term strategy for making efficient use of state financing, including the possibility of consolidating state university programs.