From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Chance Sampson
(512) 463-0123
Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Senator West files bill to protect Top 10 % college admissions rule

AUSTIN -- State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) joined by 10 Senate colleagues, filed SB333, legislation that if passed, will modify eligibility for the Texas Top 10 % rule on college admissions. Beginning in 2008, students eligible for automatic admission to Texas' colleges and universities must complete the recommended high school curriculum. The bill would provide exemptions to students unable to complete curriculum mandates for reasons beyond their control.

"As Texas moves farther into the 21st Century, it becomes more important than ever to have a college-educated workforce. We must extend and increase the ability to attend college to more of our best and brightest young minds. And despite its criticisms, the Top 10 % rule is doing just that. More students from diverse backgrounds and from more areas of Texas now attend this state's flagship institutions than ever before," said Senator West. "The Fall 2004 freshman class at the University of Texas at Austin is the most diverse in the school's history. That never happened before the Top 10 % rule was implemented."

The Top 10 % rule was created by the Texas Legislature in 1997 in response to the impact of the 1996 Hopwood Decision that banned race as a factor in college admissions. HB588, authored by the late State Rep. Irma Rangel provides a race-neutral admissions criteria that has since been touted by President George W. Bush. The bill made eligible for admission, any Texas high school student who graduated in the top 10 percent of their respective class. Since 2003, the provision has come under attack by those who say that Top 10 admits now take too many incoming freshman slots that could be filled using other admissions criteria.

"Most Texas colleges are not challenged by the number of Top 10 students entering their institution. The complaints have come primarily from students seeking admission to UT-Austin, long-considered Texas's premier institution," said Senator West. "But there remains a question of equity when students from certain schools are allowed to send hundreds of their graduates to the University of Texas when the best students from schools from other parts of the state have no representation at a facility funded by taxpayer dollars. "And anyone who says Top 10 students are not competitive are simply creating false images," he added. "University of Texas reports document that these students have routinely out-performed non-Top 10 cohorts."

Top 10 % students reached a one-time high of about 66 percent of first-time incoming freshmen in 2003 according to UT-Austin records. The same year, the university also reduced the number of slots available in their freshman class. For Fall 2004, about 62 percent of first-time freshmen were admitted under Top 10 % standards.

For more information, please contact Chance Sampson or Kelvin Bass at 512-463-0123.