The Ivy Coach Daily

November 6, 2020

Admission to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

Many Asian American parents at TJ believe the school is already diverse. Yet African American and Latinx young people are underrepresented in the TJ student body.

Over a dozen parents have filed a lawsuit against Fairfax County Public Schools over its proposed changes to the admissions process to its elite state-chartered magnet high school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Last month, Fairfax County Public Schools announced that it would be eliminating its standardized test, which is an important factor in the admissions process to the magnet public school. So who is upset over the change? Middle schoolers and their parents who’ve been preparing for the TJHST exam for years.

TJ Might Scrap Admissions Test

As Education Week reports in a piece entitled “Lawsuit challenges admissions changes at elite public school,” “The new admissions process is not yet finalized, but officials have proposed a lottery system open to all students achieving a certain grade-point average. The lawsuit claims that TJ, as one of nearly 20 ’Governor’s Schools’ across the state, is required under state law and regulations to provide education to students who have been designated as gifted through the administration of a recognized aptitude test, like the one that has been used in the past as part of the TJ admissions process. Changing the admissions process to eliminate the test violates those procedures, the lawsuit alleges.”

The Change Could Lead to Fewer Asian American Admits to TJ

So why the change? Because more than 70% of TJ’s student body is Asian American, including a large Indian American population. If the school hopes to diversify, to attract deserving African American and Latinx students, the school system is likely thinking that something has to change. Yet many parents will, of course, argue back that the change marks anti-Asian American bias. New York City’s Stuyvesant High School, The Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Technical High School, and other magnet public specialized high schools have faced similar criticism and considered similar changes in recent years in the name of hoping to add diversity to the student bodies of these institutions.

Only time will tell what becomes of this suit. Stay tuned!

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