See What Makes TJHSST One of the Highest Rated High Schools in the Nation

News
January 10, 2022

This January, a bill will be introduced into the Virginia General Assembly that directly challenges the changes made to FCPS’ admissions policy for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST).

The bill rests on the fiction that any action taken to increase access for underserved or underprivileged groups is discrimination. It is based on an antiquated philosophy long abandoned as flawed by those working in public education that standardized tests are purely “objective” measures of merit, that students’ talents and abilities are fixed, and the job of educators is simply to spot them. 

This bill would serve to reinforce inequities, rather than working to eliminate them.

Listen to what our TJ students have to say: 

In October 2020, the Fairfax County School Board, in collaboration with the superintendent, took steps to increase access to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. 

The new admissions process is merit based and is race neutral. It is designed to ensure that all students with an aptitude and passion for STEM have a fair chance to access the school. 

The new admissions process continues to use a holistic review, while dismantling barriers to entry for disadvantaged students including no longer requiring the $100 application fee. The process has yielded a prospective class of 2025 that is diverse by every measure including:

  • Geography
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Gender 
  • Special Education Students 
  • English Learners
  • Race/Ethnicity

Merit Based

  • The average GPA for applicants (3.9074) was higher in 2021 - after the new application process was implemented - than it had been in the past five years. 
  • The average GPA for students offered admission (3.9539) was exactly in line with previous years. 

Increased Diversity

Following the implementation of the new application process…

  • Students from historically underrepresented schools increased from 5.56% (2020-21) to 30.73%
  • Economically disadvantaged students increased from 0.62% (2020-21) to 25.09%
  • 2.36% of accepted students were special education students
  • 7.09% of accepted students were English Learners
  • Black students increased from 1.23% (2020-21) to 7.09% 
  • Hispanic students increased from 3.29% (2020-21) to 11.27% 
  • White students increased from 17.70% (2020-21) to 22.36% 
  • Asian students continue to constitute a majority of the class -- 54.36% 

These changes are in line with a national trend which is about ensuring talented students have equitable access to resources and opportunities no matter where they come from or their background. In making these changes, we are standing in unity with many other institutions that have eliminated standardized tests to help broaden the talent pool for these kinds of elite programs.