Higher-ed admission, remedial standards discussed
Proposed changes to admission and remedial education policies for Colorado colleges and universities were met with some skepticism Wednesday evening at Colorado Mesa University.
The Colorado Department of Higher Education hosted a community meeting at the university as part of a statewide tour to gain feedback from educators and citizens about the proposed changes. An admissions task force has been working on a list of potential changes to college policies since last year, along with a task force for remedial education. Students are assigned to take remedial courses based on their ACT scores in English and math in order to catch up to college level in those subjects.
Task force members have suggested the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, which will have to review college admissions and remedial education policies by the end of this year by state law, consider guaranteeing admission to a four-year school if a student wants to transfer from a community college and using a series of evidence of college readiness to determine if a student should get into college. That evidence would include multiple test scores, including state standardized test scores, and having colleges take a closer look at the rigor of courses a student takes in high school.
The suggested admissions policy would do away with an admissions index score currently used to determine if a student qualifies for admission. The score rates a student based on their class rank or high school grade point average and their SAT or ACT scores.
Colorado Mesa Academic Affairs Vice President Carol Futhey said at the meeting the university has found the admissions index useful and a good predictor of how well students will perform in college.
“I don’t know of any admissions office where that’s the only criteria,” she added, referring to the index.
Department of Higher Education Director of Admission and Access Policy Tamara White, who led Wednesday’s meeting, said the data used in the index system will still be part of admission evidence.
“We’re not saying they’re bad ... it’s a great start,” White said. “It just eliminates the index as the only sorting tool.”
Task force recommendations for remedial education include reconsidering the threshold ACT or SAT scores used to determine if a student needs remedial courses, using k-12 tests to help determine a student’s true proficiency in a subject, and adopting different ACT/SAT score minimums for students based on their majors. A student with a math, science, technology or engineering-related major, for example, would have to meet a higher threshold for math than, say, a performing arts or English major.
One of the 40 audience members at the meeting said it would be embarrassing to have different thresholds, adding all college students should be able to perform college-level math. White said sending students to remedial courses, especially at a community college, led to more students leaving school.
“What we were finding was it wasn’t helping with completion,” she said.
Wednesday’s meeting was the last in a series of eight meetings around Colorado. Information from the meetings will be sent to task force members, who may make alterations to their suggestions for the Colorado Commission on Higher Education based on those opinions.