BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A plan that could help some entering college freshmen earn a higher TOPS award is a step away from Governor John Bel Edwards’ desk, having so far cleared each step of the legislative process without a single ‘no’ vote.
The bill would allow entering college freshmen to take standardized tests, which determine TOPS award amounts, through Sept. 30, 2020.
Normally, the deadline to take the SAT or ACT would have passed in the spring, but standardized testing was largely canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. That prevented some students from retaking the tests and improving their scores from the winter.
“We don’t want to penalize a student for not having that high grade because we denied them an opportunity to get it,” Senate education chair, Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, said. Fields and the House’s education chair, Rep. Ray Garofalo, are pushing the plan.
If students’ scores improve in the fall, the bill would allow them to earn the higher TOPS award as if they’d taken the test as normal in the spring.
For students already enrolled in college, the plan would waive the minimum GPA students were required to meet in 2019 in order to maintain TOPS eligibility for the coming school year. If a student performed poorly in the fall and had their TOPS award suspended, but could not complete the spring semester because of COVID-19, they would be granted another semester to do so.
The Senate must concur in House amendments to the bill before it heads to Edwards’ desk for a signature.
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