BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's top higher education policy board found that college freshmen admitted without meeting its minimum standards had lower grades and were less likely to graduate than those who reached the admissions criteria.

The Advocate reports the Board of Regents survey tracked students admitted to public colleges in fall 2016 and fall 2017, finding that 2,315 freshmen failed to meet one of the board's minimum admissions standards when entering school.

The report says grade point averages for those students averaged 2.0, while the 41,500 students who met minimum standards ended the first term with an average 2.7 GPA.

In addition, about two-thirds of those admitted by exception in 2016 returned for classes in 2017, compared to 82 percent of students who reached the minimum admission standards. And 32 percent of students admitted by exception in 2010 and 2011 graduated in six years, compared to half the students who met minimum standards.

"It's critical that we understand the characteristics of students admitted by exception, but more importantly, how they perform," Regents Chairman Marty Chabert said. "We do a disservice to students if we do not place them in the best environment to succeed. However, sometimes life events make it difficult for our incoming freshman to meet all the requirements."

Chabert said the study was the first step in a Regents review to determine if changes should be made to Louisiana's admissions criteria. State senators asked for the report.

The study found one exception: Athletes admitted without meeting the minimum admissions criteria performed better academically then other students granted waivers from the standards.

Athletes who didn't meet the admission standards finished their first term with an average 2.4 GPA, and 81 percent returned the following year. But those students often routinely get tutoring from campuses and other services to help them remain academically eligible, said Regents member Collis Temple III, a former LSU basketball player.

The Regents study comes after LSU received criticism for reworking its admissions approach for first-time students entering last fall, lessening reliance on standardized test scores and high school GPAs. The changes have drawn criticism as diminishing standards.

LSU System President F. King Alexander acknowledged the Baton Rouge campus granted more exceptions than are allowed under the current Regents admissions policy, which started requiring minimum criteria for the state's public four-year universities in 2005. But Alexander said the changed approach mirrors admissions policies at 80 percent of the nation's flagship universities.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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