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Thomas Jefferson High School Admissions Increasingly Selective

Three middle schools send the most students, admissions data for the class of 2015 shows.

This is the first article in a three-part series on admissions and student life at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

Every year, thousands of Northern Virginia eighth-graders apply for admission to the increasingly selective and highly praised Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST). In the past five years, three Fairfax County middle schools seem to consistently send the most applicants—and the most admitted students—to TJHSST.  

All students admitted to the school come from public schools in Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William Counties and the Cities of Fairfax and Falls Church. Based on statistics from the classes of 2010-2014, the highest numbers of admitted students came from the same handful of Fairfax County Public Schools middle schools every year [see PDF at right].

According to data from the Winter Round Total Applications from FCPS, the highest number of students admitted for the class of 2015 (who will be freshmen in September) came from Carson Middle School in Herndon, Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church and Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly with 78 students, 74 students and 48 students admitted, respectively. Sixteen students came from Frost Middle School.

For the 2009-2010 admissions year (this fall's sophomore class), Carson Middle School had the highest number of students admitted with a total of 68. Longfellow Middle School was close behind with 66 admitted that year. Rocky Run Middle School had 45 students admitted for the 2009-2010 admissions year, followed by Kilmer Middle School with 34 and Frost Middle School with 31.

Looking back, the pattern continues. In the 2005-2006 admissions year, Longfellow Middle School sent in 177 applications and had 61 students admitted; Frost Middle School sent in 149 applications and had 35 students admitted; Carson Middle School sent in 136 applications with 36 admitted; and Kilmer Middle School sent in 123 applications with 41 admitted.

All public middle schools in participating school divisions also have a TJ Liaison Counselor, who helps distribute and collect admissions material for TJHSST. Patch has requested but has not received information from the TJHSST admissions office regarding whether presentations and recruiting practices are identical across all FCPS middle schools.

More Applicants, Fewer Accepted

A total of 3,310 students applied for admission to the TJHSST class of 2015, but only 480 (14.5 percent) were offered admission during the winter round. Of the students admitted, 83 percent live in Fairfax County. The remaining 17 percent are from Arlington, the City of Falls Church, Prince William County and Loudoun County.

                                     Winter Round Admission Statistics

Class Year

Total Applied

Total Admitted

Class of 2015*

3,310

480

Class of 2014*

3,119

480

Class of 2013

2,953

480

Class of 2012

2,577

485

Class of 2011

2,800

489

Class of 2010

2,759

507

                              *Does not include the Summer Round applicants.

 

According to the admissions packet for the class of 2015, “TJHSST can admit up to the total number of students we can (480) in the winter round of admissions with the knowledge that not all of those students will decide to attend TJHSST.” The school uses the spaces that open up when students decide not to attend for their summer round of admissions, which takes place in June each year. There’s also a waitlist of 50 students who may be offered admission to the class of 2015 in July 2011 if spaces are still available.

The number of applicants to the school has increased over the past five years, but the number of admitted students has decreased due to a regulation that governs TJHSST admissions.

Female Student Applications Increase

The gap between the number of male and female applicants has also changed over the past few years. Principal Evan Glazer, who is not involved in the admissions process, said the current school’s population is likely closer to half-and-half as far as the ratio of boys and girls than in previous years.

However, based on the TJHSST admissions data from the Fairfax County Association for the Gifted website, the number of admitted female applicants has generally decreased in the past several years, even as the number of female applicants has increased. The number of accepted female students went down to 207 for the class of 2015 from 250 for the class of 2010. In the same period, female applicants increased from 1,325 to 1,529. (The classes of 2011 and 2012 had fewer female applicants before growing in more recent years.)

Of the 1,781 male applicants for the class of 2015, 273 were admitted (56.9 percent of students). Only 207 of 1,529 female applicants were admitted, making up the remaining 43.1 percent of students. The last time the ratios were closest to even was the 2009-2010 admissions year.

 

 

Gender

Total Applied

Total Admitted

 

Class of 2015 *

Male

Female

1,781

1,529

273

207

Class of 2014*

Male

Female

1,655

1,464

272

208

Class of 2013

Male

Female

1,575

1,378

271

209

Class of 2012

Male

Female

1,358

1,219

261

224

Class of 2011

Male

Female

1,529

1,271

265

224

Class of 2010

Male

Female

1,470

1,325

257

250

                              *Does not include the Summer Round applicants.

 

The school’s curriculum does include an all-girls section of computer science. According to Glazer, the recently introduced section was created to see if that would lead to an increase in interest in advanced sciences. It is too early to gauge the impact of the program.

Admissions by Race and Ethnicity

Asian students currently make up most of the class of 2015. There are 273 admitted Asian admitted students, compared to 161 white students, 27 multiracial students, 13 Hispanic students and six African-American students. In the last five years, the number of African-American, Hispanic and multiracial students has been consecutively lower than the number of white or admitted students. However, the data suggests the number of minority applicants has trended upward every year, for the most part.

 

 

Race/Ethnicity

Total Applied

Total Admitted

 

Class of 2015 *

White

Asian

Hispanic

African-American

Multiracial/Other

1,319

1,369

222

224


171

161

273

13

6


26

Class of 2014*

White

Asian

Hispanic

African-American

Multiracial/Other

1,655

1,243

225

184


190

166

276

13

4


21

Class of 2013

White

Asian

Hispanic

African-American

Multiracial/Other

1,296

1,098

188

173


198

 

175

260

6

8


31

 

Class of 2012

White

Asian

Hispanic

African-American

Multiracial/Other

1,159

975

149

139

149

 

205

219

10

3

39

Class of 2011

White

Asian

Hispanic

African-American

Multiracial/Other

1,340

975

157

166


155

254

188

13

7


27

Class of 2010

White

Asian

Hispanic

African-American

Multiracial/Other

1,338

960

186

145


159

254

192

18

10


33

                             *Does not include the Summer Round applicants.

 

For more on the admissions process, read part 2 in this series: .


TJ June 28, 2011 at 02:07 PM
My daughter did not get selected for the class of 2015 despite having a near perfect score on the test and over 4.0 avg and what we were told were excellent teacher recommendations. What was the most disappointing news was that our daughter knew of kids in her class that were accepted with significantly lower test scores. Perhaps the county should look at creating a second school due to the high amount of bright kids in this area.
TJ June 28, 2011 at 02:14 PM
I realize that everyone can't make it in but it almost makes you want to just go with raw scores instead of the ridiculous student information sheet (SIS) and essay which are both very subjective. The students were told to complete their own SIS because "they could tell " if someone else completed them for the student. My daughter completed her own and probably suffers for being honest. The school claims they want to diversify their enrollment by admitting kids with other interest and abilities but I have not seen anything that demonstrates that they are serious.
Mike June 28, 2011 at 04:31 PM
TJ is tough. My niece just graduated from there and she would study as if she was in medical school already. The rest of the student body did the same. One of the football coaches there said he doesn't have to worry about hearing about his players there getting arrested. The only thing he worries about is his players staying up too late studying. My niece is headed to Harvard next fall.
Mike June 28, 2011 at 04:33 PM
I surely hope TJ doesn't start admitting students based on their race to increase diversity. It should be on merit only but this is Fairfax County.
John June 28, 2011 at 11:42 PM
So the 3 middle schools with large GT Centers in the highest SES areas in the county have by far the highest numbers of kids accepted at TJ. How is this news?
Beth Lawton (Editor) June 29, 2011 at 12:55 AM
Thanks for your comments! We're really interested in hearing from parents who have gone through the TJ admissions process. Was it difficult or relatively easy? Too complicated, or do you think it was fair? Let us know either in the comments here or email me at beth@patch.com or Sherell Williams (Annandale Editor) at sherell@patch.com. - Beth Lawton, Regional Editor, Northern Virginia
Mike June 30, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Why are kids from Arlington, Falls Church City, Prince William and Loudoun going to a Fairfax County High School and taking spots from Fairfax County children?
TJ Parent June 30, 2011 at 04:42 PM
TJ is a Governor's School, not a true Fairfax County public high school. As the Virginia DOE website states: The Governor's School programs are administered by the Virginia Department of Education, Office of Secondary Instructional Services, in cooperation with local school divisions, colleges, and universities. A local director at each Governor's School site has direct responsibility for the logistics of the program. TJ kids who come from outside of Fairfax County are not taking any spots away from Fairfax County kids. In fact, there is a cap on attendance numbers from each participating jurisdiction, and it is based on student population for each jurisdiction. Fairfax County, being the largest jurisdiction, is alloted a much greater number of slots than any other. The TJ website states: By contractual agreement between Fairfax County Public Schools and the participating school divisions, there is a cap (or limit) on the number of students who can attend TJHSST from each grade level from each of the divisions outside Fairfax County. This cap is calculated yearly for the incoming freshman class based on the number of eighth graders in each school division relative to the total number of eighth graders in the Northern Virginia region that participates in TJHSST. That cap applies for the four years that each individual class of students attends TJHSST.
Even Handed July 01, 2011 at 08:01 PM
The parents of Asian children (doesn't matter what part of Asia) are very connected with each other on what their kid "needs" to get into TJ. The parents are highly motivated, thus the children are as well. These parents buy houses in the areas around GT centers, constantly push their kids to do more homework, and often have their kids in after-school learning centers. TJ Test Prep is a BIG business in the Asian communities. In my many years in FCPS, there are only a handful of students I've come across who really NEEDED to be some place like TJ -- the kids that are so brilliant that it is a waste of that brilliance to keep them in a regular HS. The rest of the kids are fillers - bright fillers who are good test takers, but fillers. If people in NOVA stopped worshiping education as their god, this whole picture might be a little better focussed, but TJ gives us one more criteria by which to judge our child (and thus ourselves) as better than others. It's too bad, because it was never what TJ was created for.
Matt McKnight July 02, 2011 at 05:15 AM
"All students admitted to the school come from public schools in Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William Counties and the Cities of Fairfax and Falls Church." This isn't exactly true- while those are the public school districts where you must reside, children also come from private schools, and a few are homeschooled.
Matt McKnight July 02, 2011 at 05:20 AM
"the number of admitted female applicants has generally decreased in the past several years, even as the number of female applicants has increased." The number of male applicants also increased- you have to look at the ratios. 15% of male applicants were admitted and 14% of female applicants were admitted for the class of 2015.
Mike July 02, 2011 at 02:21 PM
What is your point Matt citing the male/female ratio?
Matt McKnight July 02, 2011 at 05:04 PM
My point was that the trend noted by the author didn't take into account the ratio of applicants.
David Toms July 02, 2011 at 08:45 PM
It would be great if Patch could find the data for students enrolled by county of residence. FCPS used to publish this but have stopped recently for what I suspect is a result of the rise in students from Loudoun County
Sherell Williams (Editor) July 02, 2011 at 09:12 PM
Hi David, the data we received from FCPS did not break the attendance by county. Based on conversations conducted for this series, the majority of the students seem to come from Fairfax County even though students come from other counties, but we did not receive statistics to back up that conclusion. Thanks for your comment!
Dedicated Mother July 06, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Percentages are the great equalizer. Regarding the top three public schools mentioned in this article, what percentage of their graduating classes were admitted to TJ? In addition, which private schools send the most kids to TJ? Please submit percentages in addition to actual numbers. Thank you.
Sherell Williams (Editor) July 06, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Hi, thanks for your comment! In the third paragraph, we list the number of students that went to TJHSST from those three schools. The PDF file we received from FCPS with that information is also included in the media with this story. We did not receive percentages, data for private school students, homeschooled students or the percentage of students from the different school divisions admitted to TJHSST.
Citizen E January 23, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Do you really believe people in NOVA should stop "worshiping education as their god?" What is more important for the future of our society than education? The problem is that there isn't enough excellence in our education system. TJ's feeder population has grown dramatically over the years; we need a larger school, or more like it.
TJ-Wanna-Be April 09, 2013 at 12:43 AM
Hey, it's fine. It's the number one high school in the country. Only a few other students are allowed, and the big source of students of TJ come from Fairfax. Only 6 students can come from Arlington!

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