The Fairfax County School Board’s governance committee is recommending that the admissions policy for the county’s most elite high school be reviewed and possibly amended.
The committee will make its recommendation regarding admissions at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (known as TJ) to the full board at its next work session Oct. 15.
During a meeting this week, the committee, chaired by Dan Storck (Mount Vernon), discussed revising Policy 3355 to make the admissions process more competitive. If the plan moves forward, a new admissions policy would take effect for next year’s applicants, the future students of the class of 2018.
School Superintendent Jack Dale said at the governance meeting that the task of finding the area’s brightest young minds is not easy.
“It’s hard to predict how they will perform three or four years down the road,” Dale said. “I mean, they are humans. There are so many things changing in their lives.”
The board members opted to review the school’s already rigorous admissions process after reports came out last spring that TJ teachers had found some freshman students were struggling in math and science.
In a letter to the School Board, a group of TJ teachers wrote that the school’s math entrance exam tested applicants at a sixth-grade level.
The teachers wrote that such a low level of proficiency was not the right way to identify the county’s top eighth-grade math wizards.
By possibly amending the school’s policy, the board could make the standards for admission more difficult. Board member Megan McLaughlin (Braddock) said only the brightest math minds should attend TJ. She was concerned that the proportion of students at TJ taking the most challenging math classes had become stagnant over the years.