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Friday, March 27, 2009

Texas Senate OKs scaling back top 10 percent college admission rule

By TERRENCE STUTZ / The Dallas Morning News
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AUSTIN – Legislation that would revamp Texas’ top 10 percent law for college admission by limiting it to 60 percent of incoming freshmen was passed by the Senate today and sent to the House.

The measure – pushed by University of Texas officials – represents the first change in the law since it was enacted a dozen years ago to provide a race-neutral admission policy for state colleges and universities.

The bill, by Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, was approved 24-7.

All those who opposed it were Democrats. They warned that the proposal could reverse the gains in minority enrollment at the University of Texas at Austin and other schools, including Texas A&M University and UT-Dallas.

Shapiro rejected that claim, saying UT-Austin officials have assured lawmakers they will continue to boost minority enrollment. If that does not happen, she said, the Legislature can revisit the top 10 percent requirement.

Under current law, public high school seniors in Texas who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class – based on grade point average – are guaranteed admission to any state college or university.

UT-Austin is the school most affected so far. Last fall, 81 percent of its incoming freshmen were admitted under the top 10 percent rule.

As the percentage continues to climb, UT officials say, many qualified students – including some with higher SAT scores – are being turned away.

Under the Senate bill, once 60 percent of the freshman class is admitted under the rule, the remaining 40 percent would be admitted using several criteria, including test scores, leadership ability and extracurricular participation.

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