Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

March 27, 2007

More whining about the top ten percent rule from Plano

Filed under: Top Ten Percent Rule — texased @ 9:59 am

At least this time they found an actual student who didn’t get into UT because of the law.

MySA.com: Metro | State:

Each spring, she said, she gets calls from constituents whose children didn’t make the top 10 percent at highly competitive Plano Senior High School.Josh Wakeman, 22, a senior studying accounting at the University of Oklahoma, is among them.

“Paying out-of-state tuition is highly undesirable,” said Wakeman, who graduated from high school with a 92 average and got an academic scholarship to OU. “There’s no provision to allow students who excel in high school to still excel in college, even though they’re not in the top 10 percent.”

Well, I’m assuming he didn’t get into UT since the article never says which schools he applied to and UT is the one that has everyone so hot and bothered. And apparently no other Texas schools were good enough for Wakeman so he had to go to an out of state school? Not even A&M? So he couldn’t get an academic scholarship at any other Texas school where it might have been enough to cover his tuition? Given that less than ten percent of the students at Plano Senior High School are considered economically disadvantaged, I suspect Wakeman’s parents have footed a large part of the out of state tuition bill.

And so here’s my question to all those parents of Plano High School students who won’t make the top ten percent, what have you done to improve the quality of Texas Universities?

MySA.com: Columnists:

But there is a reason that only UT is getting such a high proportion of top-10-percent students, Montejano says, and toughening the rule to admit only the top, say, 7 percent of high school grads won’t change anything significantly or for long.

“Until Texas deals with the fact that it has only one really attractive (public) university,” he says, ” they will have the same problem.”

I’m sure diversity wasn’t a problem for most of these parents until it hit home. It didn’t bother you that over half of UT’s class came from 64 high schools as long as Plano was one of them.

MySA.com: Columnists:

“In 1996, the last year of affirmative action, half of UT’s entering class — half — came from 64 high schools and the other half came from another 500 or so,” Montejano says. “About 900 (Texas) high schools that weren’t even represented.”

After all, surely a campus where over seven percent of the student population is Hispanic is close enough to the state’s 45 % to prove it’s a reflection of the state population at large?

Let’s face it, Plano Senior High School is successful because it’s in the richest county in Texas and one of top one percent richest counties in the country. Plano parents probably didn’t care about the tuition increases that resulted from tuition de-regulation at state schools because they could still afford it. But tell them that their kids might not make it into UT so that some kids from some of the 900 high schools that hadn’t sent students before could, we’ll that’s just asking too much. And they can’t even complain that because students from less competitive high schools are being admitted that it has a negative affect on school quality and graduation rates. UT’s own anaylsis shows that students in the top 10 percent of their class do better than those who have higher SAT scores but aren’t in the top ten percent.

I suspect the attitude of many of these parents is “damn it, I worked hard to be able to live in Plano so that my kids can go to these schools and deserve to get into UT. If for some reason, other people have worked hard and never made it to Plano, that’s their problem–isn’t that what community colleges are for?” Poor, poor Plano parents, ultimately they’re going up against the following argument:

MySA.com: Metro | State:

At both UT and Texas A&M, research shows that top 10 percent students have higher grade point averages, higher retention rates and higher graduation rates than those not in the top 10 percent, West’s office noted.”

Students in the top 10 percent are helping to further solidify the reputation of UT Austin as a top-notch university,” West said. “They’re the students from every walk of life in the state of Texas — urban, rural, black, white, Hispanics. Someone needs to tell me what’s wrong with that.”

And even though the argument against the top ten percent rule is for more diversity in areas that can’t be measured by SAT scores or grades:

MySA.com: Metro | State:

Zaffirini, a UT graduate, said she favors changing the law provided Texas moves forward to assure racial and ethnic diversity in college admissions, such as more recruiting from under-represented high schools.

“I really don’t like a single criterion, whether it’s grades or SAT scores or anything else,” she said. “A brilliant musician, a brilliant actor, a brilliant writer might not be in the top 10 percent even though we would keep that person out of the top institution.”

The best example they can come up with is an accounting major from Plano who’s parents would rather pay to send him to OU than the wilds of College Station. It must really suck when money alone can’t buy your way into UT.



  1. I believe that you misrepresented some of the statistics quoted. UT, at one time, placed a study on-line that showed what the academic majors and academic achievement for the entering freshman was. One of the most intereting statistics was the total lack of black or Hispanic students in the UT-Austin Engineering program. Maybe the top 10% students from Dallas Carter or Laredo Nixon who were admitted under the top 10% rule when they would not have been admitted under the old rules are majoring in ethnic studies instead of nuclear engineering.

    Unless you correct for majors, the comparison of academic success is meaningless.

    I would guess that many of the students at Plano, Plano East, Highland Park, etc want the big time college experience and would rather go to the University of Oklahoma instead of Texas Tech.

    Comment by superdestroyer — March 28, 2007 @ 8:38 am

  2. It would be interesting to access the impact of the 10-percent rule in cities like El Paso. El Pass is about 80 percent Hispanic. Hispanics make up an even larger percent of students enrolled in the public school system. Once the El Paso’s African Americans, Native Americans and non-Hispanic white females are counted, about 95 percent of the population was eligible for affirmative action preferences under the old admission policies. Since every neighborhood in El Paso is predominantly Hispanic, most of the affirmative action benfits went to Hispanic students attending schools in upper-income levels of the city. It would be intresting to see if the 10-ercent rule is helping Hispanic students for the poorer parts of town.

    Comment by Blair — March 28, 2007 @ 10:20 am

  3. Well, as a native Okie, I for one certainly understand why Josh Wakeman went to OU….

    Comment by Ms. Cornelius — March 28, 2007 @ 7:13 pm

  4. This is the study I’ve been looking at which shows Black and Hispanic Students admitted as freshman from 1996 to 2002.

    FALL 2003

    I think it would be very interesting to look at cities like El Paso. I graduated from an El Paso high school (northeast, near Ft. Bliss) and attended an honors program at UT. During my four years in the program, I never met another student from El Paso. The only Hispanic I remember meeting was not from El Paso. Everyone was either from Houston or a Dallas suburb, Plano etc. I kid you not, when were asked where we were from, people were from Houston but no one was from Dallas. It was either Plano, Farmers Branch, etc.

    As for OU, well… as someone how attended UT during a period where we never beat OU, I can see why someone might want to go there.

    Comment by texased — March 30, 2007 @ 8:55 am

  5. Wow this is awesome, we’re going to institutionalize racism and have a communist program like the top 10 rule. The bottom line is that in a free society, college admission should be based on the individual merit of the student and not on an arbitrary quota system that is supposed to make up for the wrongs of a dying generation with the opportunities and liberties of the new generation.

    I went to a Plano highschool, and the majority of top students there didn’t complain because they could go to another college that is better than UT in another state. The problem is that for the few great students at that school who were in the top 12%, but are vastly more accomplished than some ten percenter from a crappy school, and happen to be white and indigent. Their families could not afford to send them to an out of state school at 3-4 times the tuition rate even though they got admitted. You don’t have to be rich and white to live in Plano, but living in Plano and being white and not rich is definitely a disadvantage at college time.

    Move to another district you say? At what cost? I would rather my child go to a top competitive high school and interact with intelligent teachers and students and not automatically make it into UT than to go to some crummy school with gangs, violence, and a second rate student body and faculty and be automatically admitted.

    You got it all wrong in your conclusion by the way, it is not about money not being able to buy your way in to UT, because it can. It’s about smart deserving kids being denied higher education because of racist policies. Not only is this rule unfair to whites, Jews, and Asians, but it is also a slap in the face of the what you people would call the ‘not good enough’ minorities telling them that without intervention in the market system on their behalf they would never make it.

    In the end a smart kid is going to be alright no matter what university they go to, and no amount of racist legislation or classist posturing from a bunch of cronies is going to stop them from achieving success. This fact however is not, and should not be, an excuse for an unjust policy.

    As for the study, I think that if you were to look at figures from around the country you find the same trend as UT. Generation Y is better educated and better prepared for the rigors of college than any other generation before them, so these statistics hardly take that into consideration. The question should really be is the UT program improving at the same pace as a comparable program in another state without the top ten rule. The answer to that is most likely no, the regulation is stunting UTs growth and as it becomes less competitive to other programs the losers will be the Texas taxpayer and Texas children.

    Comment by Mister Awesome — June 13, 2007 @ 2:07 pm

  6. I went to an extremely affluent private high school. Upon graduation I had a 4.2 GPA, 1300 on the SAT, and in virtually every club in school. However,I did not get into UT. But I knew of some friends from a poor neighbor school nearby who got in under the top 10 percent rule. They all made about a 950 on the SAT’s and had about a 3.3 GPA, and were not involved in school activities. THIS IS WHATS WRONG WITH THE TOP 10 RULE!!! IT DOES NOT IN ANY WAY ENSURE THAT THE BEST CANDIDATES FOR ADMISSION ARE CONSIDERED. AND NOTICE I SAY BEST. AND UT IS VERY UNHAPPY WITH THE TOP 10 RULE, EVEN THEY SAY THEY ARE RECIEVING TOO MANY MINORITY STUDENTS THEY ARE FORCED TO ACCEPT UNDER THE RULE. ITS UNFAIR TO EVERYONE INVOLVED.

    Comment by Jennifer Hopfe — November 25, 2007 @ 4:19 pm

  7. Oklahoma includes the dfw area as in state tuition.

    Comment by bb in plano — March 7, 2008 @ 5:28 pm

  8. I am a senior in high school in Abilene, Texas. In my high school career I have taken many AP classes, and been active in all sorts of student organizations and I am not in the top 10 percent. I spent weeks slaving over my application, hoping I would be one of the few that get into UT who are not in the top ten percent. However, I have a friend who is in the top ten percent, who took ONE AP class in high school, and was eligible for automatic admission into UT. Because of this, he sent in as one of his admittance essays, a paper he wrote his freshman year in high school. Now, is this fair? Are you saying that my friend should get in because he has the better GPA, when I have challenged myself and applied myself far more than he has?

    Comment by Vera — March 18, 2008 @ 6:58 pm

  9. My son, like many here, is an accomplished student in the top 17 percent of his class in a private school. He has a full resume of activities and AP credits….and just received a denial from UT, with the offer of the CAP program if he chooses. Should we have chosen the far easier, very troubled public high school where he most assuredly would have made the top ten percent? Or is he better off with his college prep education and four terrific years behind him–and his lifelong dream of being a Longhorn crushed?
    Choices like this when a student has done all the right things should not have to be made. Shame on the legislature for not having the political courage to do what if fair and right for all Texas students.

    Comment by Annie — March 25, 2008 @ 3:18 pm

  10. Hey, guess what, UT just reported that 81% of their incoming freshman class will be admitted under the top 10% rule. Therefore, 81% of the students were admitted for class rank ALONE. How’s that for diversity?

    So you’re for diversity, just so long as it’s only racial diversity and no other kind. Tell me, how is it right for the government to force an institution of higher education to admit someone whether they want to or not? When there’s a screw-up this big, you know the government’s behind it.

    Comment by Jordan Schmittou — April 15, 2008 @ 4:58 am

  11. Before you complain about poor little Jane or John not making it into the state’s Tier 1 school, maybe you should ask why there is only one such choice in Texas?

    As for who are the best candidates? Is it the ones with all the academic credentials? What if those credentials don’t actually predict success in college? For some reason, the Ivy League schools have no problem turning down people with perfect SATs. UT’s own data shows class rank regardless of where you go to high school is a better predictor of success than SAT.

    And if you think this is just about racial diversity, you are sadly mistaken. Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to blame it on “affirmative action” rather than address the real problem of lack of state investment in higher education.


    Comment by texased — April 15, 2008 @ 8:17 am

  12. The Top 10% Rule is a good law for Texas. Everyone who fails to be admitted into UT will whine. Get over it.

    Comment by JohnnyGood — January 13, 2009 @ 9:45 am

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