NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Texas 10 Percent Plan's Impact on College Enrollment

April 28, 2014

The Texas Ten Percent Plan (TPP) shifts college enrollment from private colleges to the state's flagship universities, say researchers Lindsay Daugherty, Paco Martorell and Isaac McFarlin for Education Next.

TTP automatically admits Texas students in the top 10 percent of their high school classes to any public university in Texas. But the TTP has not been without its critics, with those opposed to the plan contending that underprepared students from low-performing schools are being accepted, while better-prepared students are unable to enroll. Florida and California have similar plans.

But do these programs actually benefit the accepted students? The authors analyzed 17,057 graduates from 2002 through 2008 from a large, urban school district in Texas.

  • The top 10 percent of students in their high school classes were more likely to be white and female and less likely to be low-income.
  • Fifty-eight percent of students in the top 10 percent enroll in college, but just 21 percent of those in the top 10 percent enrolled in a Texas flagship school (Texas A&M or UT-Austin).
  • Nine percent of students who miss the top 10 percent cutoff enroll in a flagship school.
  • Rather than increasing college enrollment overall, the study found that increases in flagship enrollment simply decreased enrollment at comparable private institutions. (It does, however, increase access to the best public universities in the state.)
  • The automatic admission did not seem to increase enrollment at flagship universities for students in urban districts that send few students to college.

The authors note that there are other potential effects of the TTP that the study does not touch on. For example, students might choose to attend less competitive high schools or take less difficult classes in order to move into the top 10 percent and receive guaranteed admission.

Source: Lindsay Daugherty, Paco Martorell and Isaac McFarlin, "The Texas Ten Percent Plan's Impact on College Enrollment," Education Next, Summer 2014.


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