NDUS admission changes comingEducation leaders across North Dakota are currently working on a formula to give eligible students automatic admission into any of the state’s 11 public higher education institutions.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Education leaders across North Dakota are currently working on a formula to give eligible students automatic admission into any of the state’s 11 public higher education institutions.
“We’ve been charged with working with all of our constituents and clients to finalize a plan by the end of the year,” said Linda Donlin, director of communications and media relations with the North Dakota University System.
The program is called Pathways to Student Success and was discussed in depth earlier this month by education leaders.
The tentative formula would take: (a student’s ACT score multiplied by three) plus (student’s grade point average multiplied by 20) plus (the number of core courses a student has taken, capped at 16, multiplied by five) and then add another 10 to the score for all North Dakota residents.
Students with high-enough scores would get automatic admission into the state’s two research-based universities, North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota. Students who reach a lower threshold will receive automatic admission to Valley City State University, Mayville State University, Dickinson State University or Minot State University.
All students will get automatic admission to Bismarck State College, Williston State College, Dakota College at Bottineau, Lake Region State College or North Dakota College of Sciences.
The actual scores for admission to the schools will be determined next month.
The plan, however, has drawn criticism from K-12 education leaders across the state, in part due to the initial implementation timetable.
Donlin said the plan has been evolving, with the work of other state education organizations.
For example, the implementation of the new formula has been pushed back to 2014, affecting this year’s high school freshmen.
The plan doesn’t require legislative approval, just approval by the North Dakota Board of Higher Education. It should be tentatively finalized by the end of the year.
“This kind of fell on our laps without having an input from us in the K-12 field before it was decided by higher ed,” said Doug Johnson, executive director of the North Dakota Council for Educational Leaders, the group representing the state’s school administrators.
The problem with the new formula, according to Johnson and other education leaders, was the implementation timetable and core course factor in the formula. Core courses are any course in math, science or English.
“We tentatively settled on 16 for the cap,” Johnson said of the limit of courses accepted into the formula.
By capping the number, students in smaller school districts won’t be at a disadvantage compared to students in larger districts that offer more courses.
The idea behind the core course factor is to ensure that students are ready for higher education.
According to Donlin, more students are now taking five to six years to graduate, in part because they have to take remedial courses once enrolled to get up to speed. Nationwide, 34 percent of incoming college students have to take a remedial course — that number is 43 percent for community college students, Donlin said.
“The more core courses a student would have the more ready and successful they will be in the university system,” Johnson said.
For school boards, this new formula will require community education and communication, said Kirsten Baesler, assistant to the executive director of the North Dakota School Board Association,
“It will be the boards’ job with the superintendents and principals to communicate with the parents as well as the students what will be expected from their students,” Baesler said.
For smaller schools to offer the same amount of core courses, schools might have to use the interactive video network to deliver classes, she said.
“There might be some policy changes that might need to be made… and school boards need to be aware of that,” Baesler said.
Still NDSBA wasn’t initially ready to jump on board with the proposed changes.
“Our hesitation was just embracing this because there were some unanswered questions on how school boards are going to prepare our students to be ready for these admission requirements,” Baesler said.
The North Dakota Education Association hasn’t formally taken a stance but welcomes advancements for students, said Dakota Draper, NDEA president.
“On a personal level I think educators think of their students as more than a collection of numbers,” Draper said. “But the idea is intriguing. Once again our organization hasn’t taken a position to what process the university system uses to admit students.”
The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction is satisfied that the new formula won’t immediately go into effect, said Connie Mittleider, teacher and school effectiveness director.
“Our high school principals and superintendents were extremely concerned that the university system would put something in effect this fall and affect our seniors,” Mittleider said.
No second meeting has been scheduled and the proposed changes would go into effect in 2014. Students that don’t meet the new automatic admission requirements would go through a normal application process.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com