‘Too early to know’ impact of new state standards

Samantha Butcher

Come August, Grand Valley State University’s campus will be teeming with new crop of freshmen, but administrators say it is too soon to tell how they will be impacted by Michigan’s new graduation standards.

“It is just too early to know anything at this point,” said Jodi Chycinski, director of Admissions at GVSU. Chycinski said the Admissions office is still processing applications and will not analyze data about the freshman class until the fall.

While it is not yet clear whether those students will be more prepared for college, the number of students applying to GVSU has increased. More than 16,000 potential freshmen applied for the fall semester, up 3,000 from this time last year.

Michigan legislators voted to enact the new standards in late 2005 to produce more competitive candidates for college admissions, but the just-graduated Class of 2011 was the first to be held to the new standards in their entirety. The new standards meet or exceed GVSU’s current admission requirements.

“This change was absolutely necessarily,” said Kathleen Straus, the then-State Board of Education president, in a press release at the time. “With the evolving economy and global pressures on what education and skills students will need for the jobs of today and tomorrow, we needed to act now.”

Lawmakers and education experts have predicted that the more rigorous requirements will produce students who are more prepared for college and need less remedial help.

Ellen Schendel, director of the Writing Center at GVSU, said one potential affect could be in the classes students opt to take. Within the writing department, incoming freshmen work with advisors to decide between taking the freshman writing requirement, WRT 150, or WRT 098, a remedial course that does not count toward the 120 credit hours required for graduation.

“It’s possible that fewer students will select WRT 098, but I don’t know,” she said. “Ultimately, students decide where they start.”

As the school year commences and progresses, the impact of the new requirements will become clearer.

“At this time, there is no way to know what impact if any (the new curriculum will have) on our freshman class because they have not enrolled yet,” Chycinski said.

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