Thomas Jefferson High responds to proposed bill challenging admissions policy

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, in Fairfax County, Virginia, is pushing back against a proposed bill that challenges its admissions process.

Beginning in October 2020, the magnet school stopped requiring standardized tests from students looking to apply, and implemented what it calls a merit-based, race-neutral application process aimed at giving students from underserved communities a chance to attend the school.

A bill which will be introduced to the Virginia General Assembly this month would prohibit Governor’s Schools from asking for racial and ethnic information and suggests that factors such as standardized testing, grades and extracurricular activities should be the determining factors when it comes to admissions.

The school has since responded, saying, “The bill rests on the fiction that any action taken to increase access for underserved or underprivileged groups is discrimination. This bill would serve to reinforce inequities, rather than working to eliminate them.”

Since implementing the new application process in 2020, the school says the average GPA for applicants has been higher than in the previous five years. Diversity has also increased: The number of Black students has risen from 1% to 7%, and the percentage of Hispanic students has grown from 3% to 11% of the school population.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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