Top Ten Percent
Graduating top ten percent is a hard road filled with four years of all nighters, study sessions, and countless hours at the library. To graduate with this honor not only brings pride to ones parents but it also gives the student a special privilege. The top ten percent rule passed in 1997 (House Bill 588) by the 75th legislator automatically accepts these students to any public Texas University. While this may seem like a noble idea on the surface, in retrospect this gives an unfair advantage to the rest of the graduating class. Texas government believes that the top ten percent rule will encourage students to work harder in high school and increase the amount of minorities accepted into a public Texas University. Instead, it works against other hard working students who did not achieve top ten percent status but have other outstanding achievements. I believe that this rule excludes many deserving students and cause parents as well as public school systems to do irrational things to circumnavigate a well intentioned but poorly thought out bill. This rule should be abolished for the good of the future students.
A great deal of hard working students who have made it their goal to attend the University of Texas at Austin are rejected solely on the basis that they are not in the top ten percent of their respected school. In the article Student Run Into to Ten Percent Law published in the Houston Chronicle, a promising 17-year-old student who wanted to follow in his fathers footsteps by attending the University of Texas was reject purely on the grounds that he was not in the top ten percent of his class. The rejection letter stated that his academic record did not meet the required competitive level(Nissimov, 1a) but his accomplishments such as maintaining a 3.94 grade point average and scoring a 1240 on his SAT (180 points above the national average) clearly states otherwise. His only draw back was attending a very academically competitive high school. His grade point average would have easily placed him in the top ten percent in many other schools but at the high school he attended, it only managed to secure him a spot in the top 30 percent.
The top ten percent rule has caused students, parents, and schools to do outrageous things to get students in the top ten percent of their class. In some instances, parents were forced to move out of their home and or illegally place their children into a less competitive and less challenging school by falsifying their address. In the article Dumbing Down of the Education Plaguing Texas and the Nation. By Marc Levin, states that There have been reports of parents transferring their children to inferior high schools to give them a better chance of graduating it the top ten percent, thereby receiving automatic admission to UT and A&M. This outgrowth of the top ten percent rule provides a clear example of how leveling can bring an entire educational system down to the lowest common denominator.(Levin, 2) These students may achieve the top ten percent status but in essence, they sacrifice the better education that they could have received. There have been cases in some schools that have squeezed extra student in the top ten percent. At Westlake High School, 63 of the 491 seniors were in the top ten percent, but the math clearly shows us that in actuality that would make it 12.8 percent. Ms. Faske, the schools college career counselor, concedes that the school did inflate some students class rank.Golden, 1) Another instance was at Lyndon Baines Johnson High School where 15 percent of the seniors managed to with the top ten percent status.
The outcome of so many students accepted through the top ten percent automatic admission rule is that there is little room left for regular admission. As a result of this, many students end up in the provisional program offered here at UT Austin. The requirement for acceptance through the provisional program is that students are required to take 12 credit hours in the subjects of mathematics, science, social science, and English. They must pass all of their classes with no incompletes and must maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.25. The provisional program is considered a tough and lengthy program but Br. Hall, a professor of Biology at UT, best describes it by stating the the provisional program is basically 9 weeks of cramming.(Hall) The students who do make it into UT under the provisional program are faced with another dilemma; they are automatically placed in the school of liberal arts. This poses a problem for many of the students who want to pursue a degree in a major outside of liberal arts because the requirements to transfer into another major are extremely high.
This controversial subject brings along with it much heated debate on whether the top ten percent rule helps bring an increase of minorities into our Texas Universities. National leading newspapers such as USA today have written, The top ten percent rule has had successful results because it promotes racial diversity, and it still rewards hard work and merit.(Evans, 2) The actual statistics of the amount of minorities accepted in the top ten percent contradicts this statement. In 1999, blacks accounted for 4 percent of the undergraduate population, the same as in 1996. Hispanics accounted for 14 percent of the undergraduate students today in 1999, also the same as in 1996.(Nissimov, 20a) One of the goals of the top ten percent rule was to racially diversify our schools but the numbers still remains stagnant, unchanged in the value of minorities accepted for the past three years.
House Bill 588 passed in 1997 was indented to promote diligence, hard work and to eliminate discrimination. This bill was created to promote equality and to allow everyone with the same opportunities but instead it does more damage than does good. The top ten percent rule has made students, parents, and schools to do things that they normally would not do such as escalating 15 percent of the senior class into the top ten percent. Students who are truly deserving of being admitted into a good school never get the chance because this rule single handedly counts them out. The top ten percent rule automatically accepts the top ten percent of the graduating senior each year but in retrospect, it rejects 90 percent of hopeful college freshmen.
Evans, Margo. Personal essay. 15 July. 2000.
Golden, Daniel. Some High School Fringle To Cram Kids Into Top 10%. 15, May 2000
Levin, Marc. Dumbing Down of Education Plaguing Texas and Nation. Houston
Review 5 June 1999 (http://www.houstonrewiew.com/articles/36.html).
Nissimov, Ron. Students run into top 10 percent law. Houston Chronicle 4, June. 2000: