Fairfax Co. school superintendent says revised admissions process at Thomas Jefferson already working

Fairfax County’s superintendent of schools says he already sees a revised admissions process at an elite STEM high school working in Virginia.

The county’s premier science and technology school, Thomas Jefferson, took steps to boost diversity by eliminating standardized admissions testing and the $100 fee to apply.

Superintendent Scott Brabrand told WTOP that the changes are paying off.

More kids from more diverse backgrounds than ever have applied and been accepted for admission at TJ and it’s very exciting,” Brabrand said. “These changes really lowered barriers for our students and encouraged them to apply.”

The school has offered fall admissions to 550 rising freshmen under its overhauled admissions process.

Other changes to the admissions process include raising the minimum grade-point average and expanding the freshman class from 480 to 550.

Additionally, seats in the freshman class were also allocated for the top 1.5% of applicants from every middle school.

“It’s really about expanding access and opportunity for our students and letting every kid with merit pursue their dreams of STEM education,” Brabrand said.

He said it’s helping local students as well.

“This is the first time in 10 years, we had students from every one of our middle schools receive an offer to go to TJ,” Brabrand said. “So I think it’s just not just great for our students, it’s also great for our schools and communities to know wherever you are geographically in Fairfax County, your child has an opportunity to pursue his or her passion at TJ.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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