Boren leery of 'grade inflation'

Friday, September 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- University of Oklahoma President David Boren says grade inflation may be indicated in the test scores of students admitted to the state's two comprehensive universities this year under a new academic policy.

Boren said 345 incoming freshmen "fared poorly" on their ACT tests after posting at least 3.0 grade-point averages in college-preparatory courses in high school.

The students had an average ACT score of 20.5, well below OU's admittance requirement of 24. At least 50 percent, or 171 students, were required to enroll in remedial courses to begin their fall 2000 semester at OU, Boren said.

"These students had unexpectedly low ACT scores, which would seem to indicate that their 3.0 grade-point average is soft,"

Boren said. "To me, that raises the question of grade inflation."

About 300 students qualifying under the new admissions policy were accepted at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OSU officials said.

Randall Dahl, OSU's associate vice president for academic affairs, said he is not convinced that grade inflation is a reality in Oklahoma.

"I don't know if you would characterize it as grade inflation or not," he said. "There is no reason to believe that high schools are failing in the courses they offer. I've seen students with good ACT scores flounder in college while students with average scores flourish."

The new policy. approved by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, permits students with at least a 3.0 grade-point average in 15 core courses -- college preparatory courses -- to apply for admission to Oklahoma's two comprehensive universities.

Under the option at the regional university level, students must obtain at least a GPA of 2.7 in core courses to apply to schools such as Northeastern State University or Rogers State University.

Students may still be admitted to Oklahoma colleges based on one of two other options. They are scoring at least 24 on the ACT or having at least a 3.0 overall GPA and being within the top 30 percent of one's graduating class.

OU has the highest admission standards among the state's public colleges. They require incoming students to score at least 24 on their ACTs and be ranked in the top 30 percent of their classes.

OSU requires at least a 22 ACT.

Higher Education Chancellor Hans Brisch said regents developed a third admissions option to give good students who might be borderline academically a better chance of attending OU or OSU.

OU's incoming class this year involved about 3,420 freshmen with an average ACT of 24.6. Boren said the class would have had an average ACT of 25.3 without the students who were admitted under the new policy. Such a mark could improve OU's national standing.

Boren suggested a policy requiring high school students with a 3.0 grade-point average to score at least a 22 on the ACT to be admitted to OU. Brisch said he is agreeable to such a proposal.

Boren said OU is trying to raise academic standards but still admits dozens of students each year with less-than-stellar ACT scores. Such students cannot exceed 8 percent of the incoming class, according to regents policy.