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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Academics & Research

Houston-area high schools start to modify ranking systems


Assured admission is available to incoming UH students who do not rank in the top ten percent of their high school classes by taking into account their standardized test scores. | Lino Sandil/The Cougar

Assured admission is available to incoming UH students who do not rank in the top ten percent of their high school classes by taking into account their standardized test scores. | Lino Sandil/The Cougar

With class ranks being one of the deciding factors in college admissions, some Houston-area school districts are revising their ranking policy in relation to the top 10 percent rule.

The top 10 percent rule began in 1998 with the intention of ensuring more diverse students enroll in Texas public universities by granting automatic admission to the top 10 percent of students in their graduating class. 

The rule’s objective was to grant fair admission to academically achieving minority students, without directly addressing their race, according to the Houston Chronicle

Fort Bend Independent School District recently changed their ranking system to provide assured admissions opportunity to students by having their class rank reflect the high school they are zoned to compared to the previous policy of ranking by the high school students attended. 

“I think that could be beneficial to the people who are higher up, but it could also hurt the people in the lower (ranking) percentages,” said hospitality management freshman Alexandria Schuckle. “It could bump their scores down.”

With the former ranking strategy, students who applied for a school they were not zoned to through an academy were competing against their non-academy peers who were locationally zoned to the school. As a result, 80 percent of Hightower’s, a high school in Missouri City, top ten percent of students were involved in the school’s digital media academy

“However, to have students ranked at a school that they do not attend seems unfair and belittles the work they have done at the school they attend,” said liberal studies junior Zaeema Ali, who attended FBISD. “In the end, someone will always be upset. It’s hard to find a solution that pleases everyone.”

Friendswood Independent School District now assigns ranks only to the top ten percent, marking the remaining 90 percent as non ranked.

While studies have shown little shift in student demographics at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M from when the top-ten percent rule was enacted, UH’s white undergraduate demographic has declined from 46 percent in the 1996-1997 school year to 22 percent in Fall 2019.

From the time the top 10 percent rule went into place, changes in higher education and the admissions process have made revisions to the policy, including automatic admission to the University of Texas at Austin dropping to the top six percent of high school classes. 

Assured admission is available to incoming UH students who do not rank in the top ten percent of their high school classes by taking into account their standardized test scores. For example, students who rank in the top 11 through 25 percent of their graduating class are granted assured admission by receiving a 1080 SAT score or 21 ACT score.

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