Monday, September 10, 2012

Higher education official says remedial course bill has become positive

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

Higher education officials were less than thrilled during the last legislative session when House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, pushed for legislation to prohibit the use of tax dollars for remedial courses at state universities.

But last week, Kansas Board of Regents President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Tompkins said the law has become a positive.

“We’ve taken this very seriously,” Tompkins said. He said he believes the law has made university CEOs more focused on the experience of freshmen students.

“It gets everybody’s attention,” he said.

When O’Neal proposed the measure, the Board of Regents was officially neutral on the bill. But some higher education supporters were unhappy with the proposal, saying that some students are high achievers but may need help in one subject.

Most remedial courses at college are math.

As originally proposed, the bill also would have reduced the number of freshmen or transfer students allowed through the “exception window,” meaning they don’t meet minimum admission standards.

Later, that part of the bill was changed to allow the development of individual student plans for success for each school admitting a student through the exception.

Tompkins said he thought universities would have policies in place even earlier than the bill requires.

Remedial courses will still be offered, but state funds won’t be able to be used to pay for them, he said. He said the courses will probably be funded through tuition.