Texas universities deserve valedictorians

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Schubert files legislation after small school valedictorians denied admission to state-funded universities

AUSTIN– State Representative Leighton Schubert (R-Caldwell) has filed House Bill 3904 which guarantees Texas students who graduate as valedictorians of their high school class automatic admission to all state-funded universities. 

In 1997 the Texas Legislature passed what is commonly known as the "Top 10% Rule," which guarantees admission to Texas students who graduated in the top ten percent of their high school class. The law was designed to increase access to the state's top public universities for top-performing Texas high school graduates. In 2009, the University of Texas at Austin was so overwhelmed that it was allowed to cap automatic admissions at 75 percent of the incoming class. “The problem,” says Representative Schubert, “is that when it comes to smaller, usually rural schools with fewer than 10 students in the graduating class, the math works against the valedictorian. That student might not be in the top ten percent.” 

"I don't think anyone was thinking about the small schools where the valedictorian of the class meets the same qualifications as the top ten percent of larger schools, but are denied that automatic admission because their class is small," said Representative Schubert. "For me this is about leveling the playing field for our hard-working rural students." 

The issue came to Representative Schubert’s attention a few weeks ago when Madison Mau, the valedictorian of Fayetteville's 2017 graduating class, was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin because she was not at a high enough percentage level in the top seven percent of her 10-student graduating class, despite having a 4.0 GPA and a 31 on the ACT. After an inquiry by Representative Schubert, UT Austin reported that 9 other valedictorians from around the state had also been denied admission. UT Austin then quickly changed their admissions policy and admitted those 10 valedictorians.

Fayetteville Superintendent Jeff Harvey notified Representative Schubert of Mau's decline from UT Austin. 

"I would like to thank Representative Schubert for recognizing and addressing this issue. Our rural school valedictorians are without a doubt some of the most gifted and dedicated students throughout the state," said Harvey. "Their admission into our institutions of higher education should be based on their pursuit of educational excellence, rather than the number of students in their graduating class." 

According to available data from the Texas Education Agency, for graduating classes 2012-2015, 339 schools around the state of Texas had classes of 10 students or less. 

"I'm grateful to UT Austin for taking immediate action to rectify the problem for this year's class," said Representative Schubert. "Now I want to make sure it doesn't happen again at any of our public universities."

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