Regents review college admission requirements

By Diane Buerger

NORMAL—The Board of Regents reviewed Illinois Board of Higher Education college admission requirements Thursday.

Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves said the “controversy is far from over” and the IBHE is willing to continue the study of different aspects of the situation.

“There are problems, there are successes, but there are also failings as well. There are many aspects to consider,” he said.

Regents Chairwoman Carol Burns said, “There was an unanimous vote (in a past meeting) to maintain those as mandatory. There was some discussion beforehand about exactly which courses should be mandatory and how many should be the exact number.”

Burns said she favors the California Plan, which requires that students take courses to equal 15 units, with three or four units being flexible. NIU President John LaTourette said he also favored the plan, which is similar to the Oklahoma Plan.

“As we have introduced these course requirements, we are just beginning to get information on this … Northern has approached this somewhat differently than the other universities, we look at every course a student takes in high school and the course content.

“Another issue is not to prescribe 15 courses and just go by the titles. Are you making sure of the content of the courses? We must have a faculty review board that is overlooked by the IBHE,” LaTourette said.

Many rural and inner city schools do not have the resources to follow the IBHE requirements, he said.

“There is a clear and very strong linkage between the core courses and ACT (American College Test) success late in high school. ACT does not provide that correlation at all,” LaTourette said.

He said the ACT correlation between students taking the package of core courses found that those who did not take the core courses scored an average of 18 on the ACT and those who took the courses scored an average of 22. At NIU, the average ACT score is 23 and many students meet NIU requirements.

“I think it’s important that we don’t deny admission if a student is one unit away from the required number of units,” LaTourette said.

“Flexibility is important and we are going to check around the region at various high schools. Some high schools require 20 units,” he said.

LaTourette said the IBHE requirements were discussed as possibly being advisory rather than mandatory. The requirements were adopted by the legislature in 1985, but were not scheduled to go into effect until 1990. He said some schools are “having a great deal of difficulty” because they have not received the money from the 1985 School Reform Act and do not have the math and science teachers needed to teach the required courses.

“Where are we going to get these people from and where is the money coming from?” LaTourette said.

Sen. John Maitland, R-Bloomington, backed a Senate bill passed by the General Assembly that pushes the requirements back to 1993. Maitland might support the implementation until 1998, LaTourette said.