Georgia’s university system recently tightened admissions requirements for non-native English speakers. The move comes as colleges are also trying to boost their graduation rates.
To help more students earn diplomas, the system is also trying to reduce the number of remedial education courses it offers.
“We’re changing how we teach and advise students so that they do not spend unnecessary time and money in classes that do not count toward a degree,” said Shelley Nickel, the university system’s vice chancellor for strategy and fiscal affairs. Nickel addressed a Senate committee Monday.
About half of college freshmen in Georgia's public colleges qualify for remedial classes. But less than a quarter of those students earn a degree in six years. Some students who benefit from remedial courses are non-native English speakers. However, fewer may be admitted now that testing requirements have increased.
“When you raise your admissions testing requirements of any sort, you narrow your pool of applicants that could be considered for admission,” said Bob Schaefer, the public education director for “Fair Test,” The National Center for Fair and Open Testing.
Schaefer said schools miss out on qualified students when they don’t have a balanced admissions process.
“It would be far better for admissions offices to actually talk to the students and look at their own written work, interview them, maybe ask them to write an essay under a secure condition,” he said.
Schaefer admitted that public schools don’t always have the money to do that. But, he says, it gives schools a more authentic picture of their applicants. That’s why, Schaefer said, some colleges have eliminated admissions tests for non-native English speaking students altogether.