Statehouse Live: Bill halting state funds for remedial courses at KU, other regents schools sent to governor

? A bill aimed at helping college students who fall below minimum admissions standards to succeed and also halting state funding of remedial courses was approved Sunday.

After weeks of negotiations, the measure was supported unanimously in the House and Senate and sent to Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration.

The bill would prohibit state funding for remedial courses at Kansas University and other regents universities. But it wouldn’t take effect until Aug. 15, 2015, and state funding would still be allowed for students in the military service, 21 years of age or older and international students who need remedial English.

In addition, after that effective date, universities could provide the courses from other funding sources if they wanted.

KU offers one remedial course, intermediate algebra, which has an average of 900 students enrolled each fall.

House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, had sponsored the original bill saying that students who need remedial course work would be better served going to a community college rather than risk failing at a regents school.

The bill sent to Brownback would also set up a individual plans for each student who is admitted to a regents university through the “exception window.”

Schools are allowed to admit 10 percent of their students who fail to meet minimum admission standards.

The bill would reduce the exception percentages at KU, Kansas State and Wichita State to 5 percent of the freshman class, and leave it at 10 percent at Emporia State, Fort Hays State and Pittsburg State.

But in practice all the schools are using the exception window at a lower rate than those set in the bill. Emporia State is at 8.1 percent; Pittsburg State, 7.1 percent; and Fort Hays State, 6.8 percent. Kansas State was a 3.7 percent; Wichita State at 1.6 percent; and KU had the lowest rate of admitting students under the exception at 0.4 percent.

The individual plans under the proposal would be put together by the student and his or her advisor and would focus on ways to ensure the student succeeded academically. “They would set up a plan to help these students be successful,” said state Rep. Lana Gordon, R-Topeka.

The bill also directs the Kansas Board of Regents to conduct a study on the retention and graduation rates of students who are admitted through the exception window.