As an alternative to racial and ethnic preferences, the public universities in Texas now admit the top 10 percent of students at each high school. Racial and ethnic diversity is higher than before the court decision throwing out preferences, and many more high schools are sending students to UT. But some families are complaining bitterly: Very good students at high-achieving schools can’t get into UT-Austin because so many places are taken by kids in the top 10 percent of low-achieving schools.
“Those kids are not prepared,” said Douglas S. Craig, a lawyer in Houston whose son, Charles, was not accepted at the university. Charles Craig went to the University of Colorado at Boulder instead, Mr. Craig said, adding that getting into the top 10 percent at his son’s selective private high school was very difficult. “His class was two-thirds National Merit scholars and semifinalists. Their scores are all very, very high.”
The university’s data show top 10 and non-top 10 students earn similar SAT scores (1223 vs. 1257 in 2003), and ten percenters earn higher grades in their first year (3.24 vs. 2.9). Perhaps there’s a thumb on the scale here, but I can’t spot it. (Click on the link to open the Report 6 pdf file.)
Florida and California are emulating the Texas model, though California only admits the top 4 percent at each high school. And eligible but marginal students may have to start their University of California education at a community college.
Here’s Discriminations on the issue.