Gov. Joan Finney intends to oppose qualified admissions at state universities until reforms are made in secondary schools to better prepare students for college.
"I think the governor has some very serious concerns about establishing qualified admissions," Martha Walker, the governor's press secretary, said today. "I believe that her focus right now is to try to achieve some improvements in K through 12 as a logical beginning before improvements are addressed at the higher education level.''
Finney outlined her position on qualified admissions during a meeting Wednesday in Topeka with community college officials.
"She said she felt more work needs to be done on curriculum at the high school and junior high level before we jump into qualified admissions," Bill Griffin, president of Allen County Community College, said after the meeting.
"I doubt anybody anticipated a change in her position," David Ambler, vice chancellor for student affairs at Kansas University, said today. "The university still feels that a qualified admissions program is appropriate at this time in our history."
KANSAS IS the only state that retains a blanket open admissions policy for residents who graduate from an accredited Kansas high school. Qualified admissions has been debated by the Legislature for years, and many lawmakers believe standards would limit some students' access to higher education.
"We don't feel that adoption of qualified admissions would work a hardship on any Kansas student," Ambler said.
The Kansas Board of Regents, which has jurisdiction over KU, intends to orchestrate a campaign this session to gain approval of its admissions plan.
Under the regents' formula, a college-bound high school student would gain automatic admission to a regents' university after filling one of the following criteria:
Achieve a "C" average in a recommended high school curriculum.
Score at least 23 on the American College Test.
Rank in the upper one-third of a high school class.
Martine Hammond-Paludan, regents' director of academic affairs, said the board's staff is collecting information from each regents' university that would support the thesis that meeting one of the criteria improves a student's chances of graduating.
"WE'RE IN the process of putting together a lot of data that will indicate that students who complete the high school curriculum and students who have higher ACT scores persist and graduate in a shorter period of time," Hammond-Paludan said.
"We'll use it to show legislators the difference," she said. "I honestly think that when we get all this data together . . . it will be something that a lot of Kansans will want to see."
Ambler said KU supports the regents' admissions proposal because it would give students who come to the university a better chance of graduating.
"We believe that having a good high school curriculum is the best preparation for success in college," he said.
Finney also told the community college officials that she won't propose budget cuts for Kansas' 19 community colleges in her State of the State message to the Legislature on Tuesday.