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Audit: LSU violating rules on admissions standards

Posted at 3:55 PM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 16:55:11-04

The Louisiana Board of Regents reported results today of an audit of how state universities are implementing admissions standards.

The audit found that LSU accepted almost twice as many students by exception than allowable under state minimum admission criteria. In addition, auditors discovered several campuses with significant data errors that hindered compliance determination.

Regents announced an audit of all four-year universities last August aimed at measuring compliance with the state’s minimum admissions standards. Since then, student data for the fall of 2018 from the Statewide Student Profile System has been analyzed by Regents’ auditors to determine compliance with the minimum standards and allowable student admission exceptions.

The audit concluded:

  • LSU exceeded Regents’ admission policy for allowable exceptions,
  • Four campuses (LSU-Shreveport, Northwestern State University, Southern University and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) did not exceed the allowable exceptions, but should correct their submitted data, and
  • Three campuses (Grambling, Southern University New Orleans and the University of New Orleans) had significant data errors such that auditors could not make a determination as to their compliance with Regents’ policy.

Regents’ minimum admission standards include completion of a college prep core curriculum plus a certain GPA OR a certain ACT score. The GPA or ACT cut scores are graduated (by institution and type) with LSU (as the state’s flagship) having the highest minimum standard. Finally, the minimum standard included a readiness factor based on ACT English and Math subscores that restricted admission of students needing a developmental course to statewide and regional campuses (i.e. all but LSU).

Within the Regents’ approved standards was a small allowance for the admission of students by exception at each public four-year institution. At the time, Regents recognized that students were more than just test scores and that campus admission officers needed the ability to review students’ potential to succeed beyond the college core, ACT and GPA. That process has been in place for 18 years.

Looking at the audit, LSU admitted 438 students out of its 5,816 freshman class by exception which equates to a rate of 7.5%. However, under Regents’ admission criteria, the flagship university is only allowed to admit 4% of its students by exception.

“To move this work forward in the coming months, Regents will look at how this policy might compliment our Master Plan in terms of increased access and success as well as what happens to campuses that are out of compliance,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. “We want to send a clear message that Regents supports students enrolling at the college or university where they will most likely succeed.”

Regents contends student preparation and performance are directly related and clearly show that those with a higher level of preparation outperform those less prepared for the academic rigors of college.

Another significant vote by Regents during its regular meeting was the adoption of an outcomes-based funding model which distributes state dollars to all postsecondary education institutions.

For several months, Regents’ staff have been working with the systems to align the funding formula with the Master Plan attainment goal of doubling the number of credentials by the year 2030. To accomplish this, the formula discussions centered around the following:

·     Expanding access and success in completing postsecondary education;
·     Eliminating persistent and damaging equity gaps; and

·     Significantly increasing the education levels of adults.

As a result of this collaboration, Regents approved a phased-in approach to align formula outcomes to support the state’s attainment goal. They also committed to on-going, in-depth conversations, beginning in August, about how the funding formula will align with state goals in the coming years, as well as the desire to engage in a long-term public finance study for higher education.

“What we’re doing to distribute higher education’s funding didn’t come out of nowhere,” said Regents Finance Chairman Blake David.  “This formula is moving us towards our 2030 attainment goal, and we will continue to discuss, right away, working on future formula models with our systems and partners.”

“We know our formula has to be transparent, it has to be predictable, and it has to be understandable and that’s our north star,” said Commissioner Reed. “The commitment we made for this year’s formula was a phased-in approach. We celebrate that we are one step into reinvestment for our colleges and universities. It’s an important step because we’ve turned the corner, but we know campuses could do more with additional funding to improve student outcomes.”

Finally, Regents welcomed a new student member, William Jewell, to the board. Jewell is majoring in Finance at Louisiana State University A&M and is from New Roads, LA. He serves a one-year term as the elected member from the Council of Student Body Presidents.