In aim to boost diversity, Thomas Jefferson High offers 550 spots under revised admissions process

A top-ranked high school in Fairfax County, Virginia, has offered 550 spots to incoming freshman under its overhauled admissions process, which eliminated, among other things, standardized admissions testing that had been a key part in the school’s selection process.

The class of 2025 is the first to apply under the revised admission, which also got rid of the $100 application fee, raised the minimum grade point average and expanded the freshman class from 480 to 550, a school news release said. Seats in the freshman class were also allocated for the top 1.5% of applicants from every middle school.

“For the first time in at least 10 years, every FCPS middle school has students who were offered admission to TJHSST,” the school said.

In addition to the revised admissions process, Fairfax County Public Schools increased outreach efforts to encourage students to apply. There’s a 17% increase in students who applied for the 2021-2022 school year compared to the previous year.

And, the average GPA of applicants was slightly higher than it has been in the last five years, the school system said.

The county school board voted last year to change the admissions process at the school, hoping that it would increase Black and Hispanic representation in the student body.

Admissions data for the class of 2025 shows that Black students’ acceptance increased from 1.23% in 2020-2021 to 7.09% this year, while Hispanic students’ acceptance increased from 3.29% to 11.27%.

Acceptance of students from historically underrepresented schools increased from 5.56% in 2020-21 to 30.73%. And economically disadvantaged students accepted increased from 0.62% in 2020-21 to 25.09%.

A lawsuit in March accused Fairfax County Public Schools and Superintendent Scott Brabrand of discriminating against Asian Americans by overhauling the admissions process. Asian students  constitute a majority of the class of 2025 at 54.36%. The student body is 70% Asian American, The Associated Press reported.

“The new admissions process continues to be merit based and is race blind. Students are allocated a number by which to be identified during the process. Admissions evaluators do not know the race, ethnicity, or gender of any applicant,” a school system news release said.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She has a master’s degree in interactive journalism from American University and a master’s degree in English Literature from The George Washington University.

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