When Texas high school students are deciding to which colleges they should apply; the “Top 10 percent rule,” or Texas House Bill 588 becomes a factor.
The purpose of this law was to grant the top 10 percent of high school students automatic admission to state-funded universities.
The top 10 percent law has the potential to provide for equal opportunity; however, when we place emphasis on statistics without paying attention to the factors that put a student in the top ten percent of his or her respective school, then equal opportunity for all students is lost.
The problem with HB 588 is that it assumes that all high schools are the same regardless of size, but that assumption is incorrect. A student who graduates from a school like Cleveland High School, where the graduating class is 180, has a better chance of achieving top ten percent than the student who graduates from Cypress Fairbanks, where the graduating class is 750.
A school that is in a more financially stable district will have more funding to focus on smaller classes. These classes will have more teacher-student interaction and the grades will more than likely be higher, as opposed to a school district with less funding. The students who attend schools with less funding will have less of a chance of achieving the top 10 percent.
Graduation size is not the only problematic element. Students who are in the top 10 percent do not have to worry about their SAT scores because they have automatic admission to the university of their choice.
In addition, students in the top 10 percent of their graduating class do not have as much riding on their SAT scores as their classmates in the 90 percent below them.
Ignoring the results of an objective test such as the SAT violates the spirit of HB 588 because it doesn’t hold all students to the same objective standards.
Schools like UT Austin are flooded each year with automatic admissions from top 10 percent students from high schools all around Texas.
If the top 10 percent law was enacted to create equal opportunity, then ignoring the objective factors is the fatal flaw in the system.