Pima College may rescind admission changes

Process botched, and test wasn't designed for this, accreditor says
2013-03-26T00:00:00Z 2014-08-05T10:52:34Z Pima College may rescind admission changesCarol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

After a year of mounting criticism, Pima Community College may soon be returning to an open-door admissions policy.

Officials there are recommending suspension of a contentious admission change that took effect last year. It banned would-be students from taking credit courses at PCC until they could pass a test that experts say is not intended to be used as an entrance exam.

The college's Governing Board is expected to vote on the issue by the end of this week. As of Monday, a meeting date had not been set.

The move to drop the test requirement comes on the heels of a recent investigation by the college's accreditor, which said the admission change was mishandled virtually from start to finish by former Chancellor Roy Flores and other college brass.

The accreditor, the Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission, is poised to put PCC on probation after investigators found problems with the admissions change and a host of other failings in its governance and administration.

The accreditor's report said PCC should have sought its permission before adopting new entrance standards, which effectively changed the college's mission without required approval.

It said Flores and other executives didn't adequately consult with the college's faculty and set up the process to "shortchange thorough input and discussion."

Interim Chancellor Suzanne Miles told Governing Board members at a study session Monday that college leaders involved in the change believed they were contributing to future student success.

The admission change required all new PCC students to prove what Flores and other officials described as a seventh-grade proficiency in reading, writing and math before they could take credit courses at the college.

But critics, including a national organization that promotes fair testing standards, said the test PCC has been using to decide who gets in was not designed for use as an admissions test and does not measure competence by grade levels.

PCC's enrollment fell by 11 percent last fall after the change took effect.

On StarNet: Find education-related resources and special reports at azstarnet.com/education

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at calaimo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4138.

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