Board hears requirement report

By Jim Wozniak

NORMAL—NIU President John LaTourette presented a report to the Board of Regents Thursday outlining NIU’s new class requirements for high school students.

LaTourette said many of the changes NIU has implemented or is planning were the result of a baccalaureate review in 1982. The NIU report states recommendations from that review included changes in general education requirements, core class requirements for high school students, follow-ups on students and high schools and rewards for faculty who receive Excellence in Teaching awards.

igh school students wanting to enroll at NIU now have to have taken 10 specific classes to be considered. NIU requires three years of English; two years of math, science and social science; and another year of either art, film, music, theater or foreign language. Students applying for admission next fall are the first class subject to the new regulations, LaTourette said.

“We announced these requirements a few years in advance,” he said. “NIU has paid a great deal of attention to this issue. We’ve had a good reaction from the high schools.”

LaTourette said the university will phase in this new requirement by allowing applicants to be one class short in one of the categories this year, but all 10 will be necessary after that.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education has developed a set of 15 classes all Illinois universities must incorporate in their admissions policies by 1993. NIU will need to increase its requirements by one in each of the five areas to meet the IBHE’s requirements. The IBHE’s discussion on the subject began in 1983, a year after NIU’s review started.

NIU Provost Kendall Baker said Thursday NIU would not boost its class requirements gradually to 15 until 1993. He said the move to 10 classes from nothing previously is “the big step.” With five years leeway before 15 is the mandate, NIU will be able to study the early results from the new requirements and understand where problems have occurred in student preparation or high school knowledge of the subject, he said.

LaTourette said Illinois high schools received information about the new requirements before students entered their freshman year in 1984. That way high school students knew four years in advance what classes they would need for admission to NIU, he said.

Baker said while in-state high schools learned about the new requirements by letter, out-of-state schools found out through the undergraduate catalog. The new requirements have been listed in the catalog on an “effective in 1988” basis, he said.

“I think Northern and Illinois State are being very responsive to higher education,” LaTourette said. “The problem is the IBHE did not seek consultation with the universities (about the 15-class requirement).”

Baker said high school students for the first time are required to send transcripts with their applications. Before this year, sending a transcript was optional, he said.

Baker said the university has looked at the transcripts of enrolled NIU freshmen that submitted them and determined that between 20 and 30 percent of those students would not have met the 15 class requirements. Baker said he expects the number to start out at closer to 30 percent at the start, but the number will decrease steadily after that.

When the National Collegiate Athletic Association began enforcing its own core class requirements for high school athletes wanting to play on a sport, a common complaint was that high school counselors were unaware of the rules even though the NCAA had given four years notice. Baker said he does not expect the same situation with the 10 requirements.

“I doubt it,” he said. “I really do because we’ve been publicizing this very much.”