Friday, April 15, 2005

Is Top 10% Rule Working? You Might be Surprised

Here's an editorial from today's Statesman that rules on the side of evidence. For your info below, I also provide LULAC's position on the Top Ten Percent Plan. It's unfortunate that such a few wealthy and powerful people in our state can exhibit so much clout and power that they force the whole system to bend in their direction, on the one hand, and also that our universities feel unduly pressured to change, on the other, even against their own interests of devising a process that translates into freeing up spots at the university level. (The Statesman shows that these students have higher retention and graduation rates than non-Top Ten Percenters.) Maybe there should be a cost analysis that shows how much money is actually saved by bringing in TTP-ers. Just a thought. -Angela

Friday, April 15, 2005

We've heard a lot of talk from state leaders about the pressing need to increase minority enrollment at the state's colleges and universities. Ideally, Texas would have an admissions system that rewards effort, doesn't discriminate and gives students from rural areas an equal shot at top universities.

Texas has that kind of system right now. And the facts show that the students who gain admission under the top 10 rule are more competitive than those who are admitted under other criteria. Surprised? We were, too, given critics' statements that the top 10 students are not as "competitive" (you can read that in any number of ways) as students with high SAT scores. The facts demonstrate that the law is doing what it is supposed to do. But the Legislature is considering repealing the law or substantially revising it in an attempt to give preference to students from affluent suburban districts who have lost ground in the competition for seats at the University of Texas at Austin.

There is fierce competition for limited seats, especially at UT-Austin. Unfortunately, Texas public schools are not equal in resources, funding and quality. That is the genius of the top 10 law: it rewards merit and effort. Those who work the hardest earn the prize. The law is fair, and it is working. It shouldn't be repealed, as state. Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, proposes in a bill he filed this session.

Under the 1997 law, students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school classes in Texas can attend the state university of their choice. That means that the top 10 percent of seniors in the Del Valle school district with a large number of economically disadvantaged students has the same opportunity to gain admission to UT-Austin or Texas A&M University as the affluent students in the Eanes school district. It means that students at Palmer High School in the small-town district in North Texas have the same shot at UT-Austin as students at Highland Park High in the wealthy Dallas suburb.

The law ignores a student's race, ethnicity, income and geographic origin. Even so, it has significantly boosted minority enrollment at UT-Austin and Texas A&M University. It has also helped many white students from rural communities and small towns gain admission to selective schools.

Critics complain that top 10 students from Brownsville, Dallas or rural East Texas are less deserving than non-top 10 students from Plano, Highland Park or Eanes. Therefore, they argue, Texas is losing its brightest and best students because top 10 students are filling up so many seats that there aren't any left over for other gifted students who don't graduate in the top 10 percent of their class.

But UT-Austin's own figures show that top 10 students stay in college in greater numbers and graduate faster than non-top 10 students. It's true that top 10 students are taking a greater share of seats at UT and A&M. But there still are plenty of seats available at those institutions for others because thousands of students who are admitted don't enroll.

Texas has a fair admissions policy that gives every student the same chance to gain admission. It can be improved, as Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, is proposing with legislation requiring students to take the recommended high school curriculum to be eligible for top 10 admissions. But it shouldn't be repealed or substantially altered to favor those with the greatest influence at the Capitol. Any student who works hard enough to rise to the top of his or her class is treated the same under the law. The top 10 law puts the focus on merit. Wentworth and the Legislature should do that, too.

Find this article at:
2000 L Street, NW, Suite 610; Washington, DC 20036
(202) 833-6130; (202) 833-6135 FAX;

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brent Wilkes, (202) 833-6130

March 30, 2005

National Board Supports Continuation of Successful Policy

Austin, TX - The National Board of the League of United Latin American
Citizens voted unanimously to support the continuation of a Texas law that
guarantees college admission to students who rank in the top 10 percent of
their high school class. Citing the 10 percent plan's success at increasing
diversity in Texas public universities, LULAC opposes any attempts to
abolish the law.

"It is clear to anyone who looks at enrollment data that the 10% plan has
increased diversity in our colleges and universities," stated Hector M.
Flores, LULAC National President. "If the 10% plan were to be abolished it
would destroy the tremendous opportunity that the program has created and
turn back the clock on diversity in Texas."

The university admissions law was adopted after a 1996 5th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals decision that eliminated affirmative action in Texas
college admissions. Since the 10% law was passed, the number of Hispanic and
black students admitted to Texas universities has more than doubled.

"Texas LULAC is firmly in support of preserving the 10% admissions rule,"
stated Roger C. Rocha, Jr., LULAC Texas State Director. "This rule provides
an equal opportunity for all Texans to receive a good education and achieve
the American dream."

LULAC plans to lobby the Texas legislature to preserve the plan which had
been championed by the late Texas Legislator Irma Rangel.

"Representative Rangel pioneered this landmark legislation and it was
supported by President George W. Bush when he was Governor," stated Flores.
"LULAC commends Texas Senator Royce West from Dallas and other legislators
for their ardent support of the 10% plan. We won't let the opponents of
equal opportunity jettison this plan simply because it has proven to be

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the oldest and
largest Latino civil rights organization in the United States. LULAC
advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political
influence, health, and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through
community-based programs run by more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.


  1. Your argument is nonsense. Imagine a student who is in the 11% at Plano East. Do you not think he/she is working harder than a student in in 10% percentile at Dallas Carter.

    What the system does is reward voluntary segregation in housing, rewards stuent who game the system on class ranking, and it punishes parents who seek out the best public education for their children.

    If you look at the details of those minority 10% student admitted at UT, you will find that they are overwhelming avoiding science and engineering and other "hard" majors and filling out the seats in "studies" majors.

    I would lover to hear what you would tell the parents of children at Plano East not in the 10% who have SAT scores 300 points higher than the 10% students at South Oak Cliff.

  2. I would like to say that the 10% rule worked for me, and also helped quite a few of my friends.

    I was not really planning to go to college, well, because I had to work really hard to try to keep up with everyone else. Plus, if I did not get into college, I would be working right now to help my family and myself.

    But, I graduated in the top 10%, and was accepted to UT-Austin, and I am very grateful for that. I am surrounded by many people which things came easy for them, but also by the people that worked their butts off to get where they are today (I am one of those people).

    Also I would like to comment that superdestroyer is racializing all minorities. There are minorities in the "hard" majors including myself. Others are not automatically accepted into their college of preference, but later on are accepted. Plus not only are minorities getting the help of the 10% rule, but as well as some Anglos.

    Other than that, the 10% rule has helped many students, and helped universities become more diveresed.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. In response to superdestroyer....

    I would tell the parents at Plano East, " It's wonderful that your children have been brought up in a verbal and linguistic environment which allowed them to do well on a test that measures similar verbal and linguistic abilities." Then I would add, "And isn't it also fortunate that many of you had the resources to pay for your child's SAT prep course...and even better still you were able to assist your child when they studied their SAT prep guide. But you know there is a substantial amount of research, dating back to the 1940's, when the SAT was first introduced as a college entrance examine, which shows that the SAT is culturally biased, and every year African Americans, Mexican Americans, and economically disadvantaged youth score lower as a group than middle and upper class Anglo students."

    The I would tell them what admission personal at colleges say about SAT scores. Which is that a high GPA (which students in the top 10% of their class generally have) combined with low test scores probably says the students parents didn't go to college. Thus, the South Oak Cliff lower SAT scores are probably more a reflection of parental lack of education than student achievement or aptitude. Furthermore, high school grades, whatever their flaws, have shown to be a much greater predictor of college success than either SAT or ACT scores.

    If this wasn't enough to convince the parents of the equity in the 10% rule, then I would ask them to hop in my car so I could take them over to South Oak Cliff. Once there I'd let them sit in on a few AP classes. Then as we left South Oak Cliff, taking a detour to make sure the parents got a good sense of the neighborhood, I'd tell them, "You know you can enroll your children at South Oak Cliff if you want to guarantee they make it in the top 10%."

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