Superintendent Will Present Revised Proposal for TJHSST Admissions Process in November

News Release
October 09, 2020

Based on feedback from the October 6 Fairfax County School Board work session, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand will present a revised admissions process proposal for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) next month. The proposal would promote access to the governor’s regional school for historically underserved students.
“We believe that the student body of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology should be representative of all of our students in Fairfax County,” explained Brabrand. “My office will continue to collaborate closely with the School Board to ensure that the proposed changes will help all students have access to TJ based on the merit of their application and not based on test scores and unequal access to preparation programs.”  
The School Board reached consensus that the TJHSST admissions tests and application fee should be eliminated. The Board also agreed that the Superintendent’s revised proposal should include a capacity increase at TJHSST to be more comparable with other schools in the division; examine an approach that considers the applicant pool by pyramid and middle school; present a holistic admissions process that considers lottery and non-lottery options; and initiate the revised admissions process timeline for the Class of 2025 to begin no later than the end of January 2021.   

The Board also approved a motion at its October 8 meeting directing the Superintendent to develop a plan to establish policies and procedures for a regional governing board for TJHSST. The governing board will be comprised of a proportional representation of school boards that send students to the school.

In the newly revised Superintendent’s proposal presented at the work session, the highest-evaluated students will be offered an opportunity to fill 20 percent of available seats (100) based on a holistic review of their applications. The remaining 400 seats will be filled by merit lottery, with FCPS region slots proportional to student enrollment. A rolling admissions process will fill a class of 500 students. 
The revised Superintendent’s proposal eliminates the admissions test, teacher recommendations, and application fee, and maintains that student applicants meet the minimum requirements including a 3.5 GPA (grade point average) in core classes, enrollment in Algebra I, residency in Fairfax County or a participating jurisdiction, a Student Portrait Sheet (formerly the Student Information Sheet), and a questionnaire-problem-solving essay with consideration of experience factors. Experience factors are personal circumstances that potentially impact a student’s education experience, such as special education, English language learner, economically disadvantaged, and enrollment in an underrepresented FCPS school. 
Additional details about the Superintendent’s revised merit lottery proposal are available online under the October 8 meeting agenda.

The Superintendent presented his original proposal to change the admissions process to the School Board on September 15.