The Kansas Board of Regents is considering a new plan for qualified admissions that would add an achievement test to give students yet another option for gaining entrance into state universities.
One goal of the test would be to placate state legislators and others who have balked at "closing the door" on the traditional open admissions policy for Kansas high school graduates.
The qualified admissions criteria proposed by the regents last year seemed reasonable enough, but if adding the achievement test would help the measure get through the Legislature, it deserves consideration.
The plan previously proposed by the regents would have required high school seniors to have a 2.0 grade-point average in a college preparatory curriculum, score at least 23 on the American College Testing exam or rank in the top third of their class to gain automatic admission. The exam regents are considering would allow Kansas high school graduates to bypass those requirements if they could achieve a sufficient score on the achievement test.
Some of the same critics who have opposed the previous plans will be sure to continue their opposition even with the addition of the achievement test, but the regents seem to be bending over backward to provide every opportunity for qualified students to gain admission into state universities. If they aren't good at standardized tests, they still might be able to complete the college prep curriculum. If they have played around and not gotten good grades but have plenty of potential, they might be able to pass an achievement test or score well on the ACT.
And even if they fail all the admissions qualifications set by the regents, it doesn't mean their academic careers are over forever. There are many other options, including community colleges. Such students might actually be better off attending classes at a community college for a couple of semesters to prepare them for university academics.
The whole idea of qualified admissions is to make sure students have the preparation that will increase their chances of being successful university students. If they are ill-prepared either in terms of academics or maturity they are wasting not only their time but the universities' resources. And that means a waste of taxpayer dollars at a time when the state can ill afford such losses.
Qualified admissions shouldn't be viewed as a punishment. It's an effort to make students more successful. If the addition of an achievement test option can help make that point to more state legislators, the regents should give it a try.