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Texas Lawmakers Approve Changing Top 10 Percent Law

Texas lawmakers gave final approval Saturday to a bill scaling back the law allowing automatic college admissions for students in the top 10 percent of their graduating class.

The legislation, which passed the Senate on a 27-4 vote, would apply only to the University of Texas at Austin. It would cap the number of Texas students admitted under the program to 75 percent of the entering resident freshman class.

The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Perry.

Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said she was disappointed a more sweeping version was not approved. She had sought a lower cap and wanted to allow other colleges to limit their automatic admissions.

“I think it doesn’t really give the flexibility that the university wanted,” Shapiro said. “This is not what I thought we were going to get.”’

The bill would take effect in 2011, meaning it would cover students who are sophomores in high school this year.

Supporters of changing the law say it has caused a “brain drain” at UT-Austin, prompting exceptional students who fall just outside its top 10 percent parameters to go elsewhere, including out-of-state schools.

More than 80 percent of the home-state freshman class are admitted under the rule at UT. The school has been pushing the Texas Legislature to allow it to start cutting back on such automatic admissions.

The top 10 percent law was adopted a decade ago after a federal appeals court decision made affirmative action illegal in Texas college admissions. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed universities to use race as one of many decision-making factors.

Perry, a Republican, has said that reforming the law is a top priority.

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