AUSTIN, Texas—The "Top Ten Percent" legislation (HB588) enacted into law by the Texas Legislature in 1997 has helped ensure that the diversity of the state of Texas is reflected at UT Austin, according to Dr. David Montejano, an associate professor of history and sociology who led research efforts that yielded the "Top 10 Percent" policy.
He said his research looks closely at the high schools that have just begun sending graduating seniors to UT Austin.
In a document released this week titled, “Access to The University of Texas at Austin and the Ten Percent Plan: A Three-Year Assessment,” Montejano said after three years, the Top 10 Percent law “appears to have broadened, in a modest way, the high school ‘sending’ or ‘feeding’ pattern to UT Austin.” He said the law has accomplished this in a way that benefits all regions of the state.
“The real winners of the Top 10 Percent plan are the inner city minority high schools and the rural white high schools,” said Montejano.
“This preliminary look at the ‘new senders’ suggests that the law has made the state flagship university more accessible to the best high school students, regardless of race, economic standing or residence. In so doing, the Ten Percent law has helped ensure that the diversity of the state is reflected at UT Austin,” Montejano said.
Looking at UT Austin only for the period between 1996 and 2000, the study finds that the “new sender” high schools come from 71 counties across Texas. He said there are two principal clusters, comprised on the one hand of inner-city minority high schools in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, and on the other of rural white high schools, located mainly in East and Northeast Texas. There is a third grouping consisting of minority and “mixed” rural schools in West Texas and South Texas.
Montejano said the change in high school sending patterns since 1996 is modest, but it points in the direction of increased access to UT Austin for all areas of the state.
“The key to greater access lies in the fact that the Top 10 Percent law assures the very best of each high school admission to the state university of their choice. Because high schools generally reflect local communities and environments, this is also the key to creating a diverse student body that roughly reflects the makeup of the state,” Montejano said. “As should be clear by now, this diversity is more than a matter of race: the new high school senders clearly point to a diversity of region, economic class and social background. In essence, HB 588 is helping The University of Texas at Austin achieve its motto, ‘We’re Texas.’ “