Wichita The Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday indicated it would appoint a task force to consider recommending changes to the admission standards at state universities.
The decision made during the regents retreat came after a challenge by Gov. Mark Parkinson to improve the academic standing of the Kansas higher education system.
Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said she believed increasing the admissions standards “would move you toward students with better preparation,” and eventually better graduation rates.
Gray-Little, who recently came to KU from the University of North Carolina, said in North Carolina there is a systemwide base of admissions standards and each university can increase those standards as they see fit.
A law approved by the Legislature during the last session allows the regents to adopt different admission standards for regents universities. The measure was pushed by KU, where officials say they hope to propose tougher standards soon.
The current admission standards, which were placed in state law in 1996, say that students may be admitted to a regents university if they have graduated from an accredited high school and have either an ACT score of 21, rank in the top third of their high school class or earn at least a 2.0 grade-point average on a prescribed curriculum.
On Wednesday, Regents Chairwoman Jill Docking said she believed a task force could produce a report in six months to nine months.
Docking said she believed the admission standards weren’t tough enough. “I find the qualifications we have now are not adequate. I would like to see the whole system rise,” she said.
Based on the discussion of regents and university chiefs, the task force will look at a systemwide recommendation because higher standards at one school could impact enrollment at other Kansas institutions.
And regents members said they wanted to have representatives from high schools on the task force since they will have to prepare students for the college admissions. Under state law, any change would not be implemented for four years in order to give students time to adjust to the changes through high school.
On Tuesday, Gov. Parkinson kicked off the regents meeting by making a critical assessment of higher education in Kansas, and presented goals to increase its national standing.
He said that overall, the higher education system in Kansas was mediocre, the national rankings of regents universities too low, and the retention of students and graduation rates below the national average.
He called for a 10-year plan by the Kansas Board of Regents and schools to improve their academic operations. Step one, he said, was to implement tougher admission standards, particularly at KU.