Texas House Bill 588

Texas House Bill 588, commonly referred to as the "Top 10% Rule", is a Texas law passed in 1997.

The law guarantees Texas students who graduated in the top ten percent of their high school class automatic admission to all state-funded universities. The bill was created as a means to avoid the stipulations from the Hopwood v. Texas case banning the use of affirmative action.

The law only guarantees admission into university. Students must still find the means to pay, and may not achieve their desired choice of major. (Another existing law, which preceded 588, provides a full tuition scholarship for the class valedictorian of a Texas high school for their freshman year at a state public school.)

The law has drawn praise and criticism alike. Supporters of the rule argue that it ensures geographic and ethnic diversity in public universities. They also point out that students admitted under the legislation performed better in college than their counterparts.[1] The law has been blamed for keeping students not in the top ten percent but with other credentials, such as high SAT scores or leadership and extracurricular experience, out of the larger "flagship" state universities, such as the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, College Station. UT-Austin has argued for several years that the law has come to account for too many of its entering students, with 81 percent of the 2008 freshmen having enrolled under it.[2]

Some administrators, such as former University of Texas at Austin President Larry Faulkner, have advocated capping the number of top ten percent students for any year at one half of the incoming class. Others have suggested a move to a top seven percent law. However, until May 2009 the Texas Legislature had not revised the law in any way since its inception. A 2007 measure (HB78) was introduced during the 80th Regular Session (2007) but never made it out of committee.

Under legislation approved in May 2009 by the Texas House as part of the 81st Regular Session (Senate Bill 175), UT-Austin (but no other state universities) was allowed to trim the number of students it accepts under the 10% rule; UT-Austin could limit those students to 75 percent of entering in-state freshmen from Texas. The University would admit the top 1 percent, the top 2 percent and so forth until the cap is reached, beginning with the 2011 entering class. UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and UT-Austin President William Powers Jr. had sought a cap of about 50 percent, but lawmakers (led by Representatives Dan Branch (R-Dallas) and Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio)) brokered the compromise.

A study by Julie Berry Cullen et al. (2011) found that the law created a perverse incentive for students to transfer to a high school with lower-achieving peers, in order to graduate in that school's top percent.[3]


  1. ^ "‘Top 10 percent rule’ on session agenda". 
  2. ^ "House moves to scale back top 10 percent rule", Ralph K.M. Haurwitz, Austin American-Statesman, May 26, 2009
  3. ^ Cullen, Julie Berry; Long, Mark C.; Reback, Randall (2011). "Jockeying for Position: Strategic High School Choice Under Texas' Top Ten Percent Plan". NBER Working Paper 16663. 
  • "Texas Legislature Online - History".  
  • "HB 78 (80R)". Billhop Legislative Wiki. Retrieved 2006-11-17. 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.