Who can go to the best public high school in the country?
After school officials changed the admissions process of Thomas Jefferson Technology High School last year, this has been a controversial issue for communities outside of Washington, DC.The stated goal is to increase the diversity of students in public magnet schools, which was named by U.S. News and World Report No. 1 in the countryBut opponents say that the new policy illegally creates barriers for Asian American students. (EdSurge delved into this issue The latest episode of the Bootstraps podcast series Co-produced with Open Campus, a news non-profit organization. )
On Thursday, officials announced that the racial and socioeconomic makeup of Thomas Jefferson’s first enrollment class, or what everyone in the town called TJ, would be selected under the new system-including cancellation of entrance exams and cancellation Application fee and ensure that outstanding students from every qualified secondary school can participate.
The greatest impact is on the economic class, not race.
According to a report from Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia County, where the high school is located, the proportion of financially disadvantaged students has increased from less than 1% to 25%.
The racial makeup of admitted classes in 2025 will also be very different from the past few years. Although only 1% of enrolled students were black last year, this year this percentage has risen to 7%. The proportion of Hispanic students rose from 3% to 11%. The number of white students increased from 17% to 22%.
The only group that has suddenly declined are Asian American students. They accounted for 54% of the new class, and in the past few years, they have received 65% to 75% of acceptance letters.
“It’s all worth it,” said Makya Renée Little, president of the TJ Alumni Action Group. “This has been an emotional year. We spent a lot of late nights, building relationships, building partnerships… and using data to draft strategies and reports,” she added.
Rachel Ray, who is also a member of the TJ Alumni Action Group, said she was pleasantly surprised to see the surge in the number of economically disadvantaged students. “Race is just a canary in a coal mine, and there are more inequalities on the axis,” she said in an email interview.
But the parent group that opposes these changes, called the TJ Alliance, said the figures released this week support their opposition.they File a federal lawsuit Soon after the admissions reform, they opposed the school board, arguing that these measures unfairly discriminated against Asian American students.
“The data shows that the proportion of Asian American students has dropped by about 20%,” said Irene Wilcox, an attorney representing the TJ Union. “This is a very significant drop.”
“The most important thing is that you can’t consider people’s race when deciding who can go to which school,” she said. She said that the entrance exam works well because it is “race neutral,” but the new system actually blocks Asian students, which is based on the number of students in some middle schools. “It takes advantage of the fact that Asian students appear to be concentrated in a certain number of middle schools in Fairfax County,” she added.
Last month, a federal judge Allow the TJ Litigation Alliance to move forward, Now enters the discovery phase, which lasts until mid-October. At that time, both parties should ask the judge to make a summary judgment, otherwise the judge can decide to let the case enter the full trial stage.