State Representative Ellen Cohen on Passage of Top Ten Percent Reform Bill

May. 25, 2009 in Press Releases

State Representative Ellen Cohen commended her House colleagues in passing Senate Bill 175 reforming the “Top Ten Percent Rule” which guarantees admission to any state university for high school students finishing in the top ten percent of their graduating class.

“This issue is one of the top priorities for families in our District,” Rep. Cohen said. “When I go door to door, I hear the concerns of parents who worry that their kids have no chance of getting into the University of Texas because of this rule. I strongly believe that students from competitive high schools with good grades and outstanding extracurricular activities be given a fair chance at admission.”

As a member of the Higher Education Committee, Rep. Cohen has worked closely with Chairman Dan Branch in moving Senate Bill 175 to the House floor. She was a joint-author of the House version and had made capping the number of students automatically admitted under the Top Ten Percent Rule one of the her highest priorities. In the most recent statistics, 81% of students admitted to the University of Texas were automatically admitted under this rule.

Examples of students being denied admission are evident from high schools in District 134. Bellaire and Lamar High Schools combined had over 200 students denied admission into the University of Texas, which is more than half the applications from students at each of these schools. Similar statistics confirm that for students applying to the University of Texas from the highly regarded private schools of Episcopal, St. Thomas, and St. John’s School face the same challenges for enrollment.

In March of 2007, Rep. Cohen hosted a town hall meeting where students from Bellaire and Lamar made presentations showing statistics of the “crowd out” effect the Top Ten Percent Rule was creating for them. Rep. Cohen has focused on expanding the number of spots available for students on a competitive basis by reducing those automatically admitted under the rule.

Today, Senate Bill 175 passed on second reading. It must still pass third reading before heading to the Governor’s Office.