Dec. 8, 2006
Admission index on regents agenda
by Anne Krapfl
Freshman applicants to Iowa's three regent universities would be assessed on four criteria instead of one -- class rank -- in a new admission index the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, is expected to approve during its Dec. 11 meeting. Board reaction was very positive during an initial discussion of the proposal last month.
Currently, freshman applicants who rank in the upper half of their Iowa high school classes are guaranteed admission to any of the three regent universities. Students also must meet university-specific minimum course requirements, determined by each school's faculty and published in the brochure Building Your Future. Students would continue to have to meet these high school course requirements.
The proposed Regent Admission Index considers class rank, cumulative high school grade-point average, ACT score and the number of core subject courses completed in high school and applies multipliers to each. An unusually high index potentially could exceed 330, depending on how many core subject courses a student took. As proposed, the index would be counted like this:
After much discussion at and among the universities, the schools agreed they will recommend to the board that students who achieve an index score of 250 points would qualify for automatic admission to any of the three regent universities. The rationale for a single qualifying score is that it simplifies the process for prospective students and their parents, and avoids the perception of the state having a tiered university system.
Freshman applicants whose index score falls below 250 still could be admitted. As occurs now, their applications would be reviewed on an individual basis and the admission decision would be specific to each regent university.
Members of the ad hoc committee that studied the issue represent the three regent universities. Registrar Kathy Jones and Karen Zunkel, representing the provost office, were Iowa State's members, and senior associate director of admissions Phil Caffrey also served in an ex-officio capacity.
ISU committee members discussed the index with Faculty Senate leaders prior to preparing the final proposal to the regents.
Jones said the committee sought an index score that was not so high it restricted access (particularly important to Iowa State's land-grant mission) or so low that universities admitted students who did not have a reasonable chance of achieving academic success. Committee members applied the index to current regent university students to assess whether their (hypothetical) index scores would accurately reflect their actual retention and university GPAs.
Not more or less, just broader
Jones said the admission index is not intended to be more restrictive, but simply uses multiple factors in assessing students' readiness for college and likelihood for success once they arrive. She emphasized that the index score of 250 is for automatic admission. Students with lower index scores still would be encouraged to apply.
The committee tried to meet numerous goals in developing the index, according to Jones. These included providing a helpful, transparent tool for college-bound Iowa students and their parents, and supporting the state Department of Education's desire to encourage students to take rigorous courses during high school.
"This index doesn't alter our admissions standards and it's not intended to lower the number of applicants," Jones said. "I think it does give a more balanced assessment of their high school performance and the likelihood they'll do well at an Iowa university."
Lawmakers requested a study
Legislation passed during the 2006 session directed the regents to conduct a study related to admission requirements common to the three universities and submit a report to the Legislature by Jan. 8. Admission requirements for the three regent universities are part of the state's Administrative Code, so implementing the admission index would require a change to the code this winter.
If the proposed index clears all hurdles, it would be implemented for the fall 2009 freshman class, giving current high school sophomores two years to amend their course plans if needed.
The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, is expected to approve a new admission index at its Dec. 11 meeting.
"This index doesn't alter our admissions standards and it's not intended to lower the number of applicants. I think it does give a more balanced assessment of their high school performance and the likelihood they'll do well at an Iowa university."
Kathy Jones, ISU registrar