A needed change

Monday, November 20, 2006

A policy change under consideration by the Iowa state Board of Regents is long overdue.

The policy is to base admission to one of the three state universities - the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa on whether the student graduated in the top 50 percent of the student's class.

The Regents' Admissions Study Team has expressed concern that too many high school seniors opt out of challenging classes for fear of lowering their grade point averages and thus disqualifying them for admission to a state university.

The proposal calls for an index that would take into account a student's GPA, class rank, ACT composite score and the number of core subjects taken. This provides a more complete profile of the student than a simple class rank.

Some years back, Washington High School had a truly exceptional class in which most of the students were well qualified for success at a state university. At least one student was unsuccessful in appealing the 50 percent requirement that year.

In other years, some students ranking within the top 50 percent would need considerable remedial work at a state university.

In smaller school districts with graduating classes of 20 or fewer, the fluctuations in average performance from year to year are even greater, making class ranking almost meaningless.

We are optimistic that the Board of Regents will approve this common sense suggestion.