- September 16, 2013 Meeting Summary
- TJ Admissions – School Board Approves New Policy
- Advice for TJ Semifinalists
- Washington Post Article About TJ Admissions
- Current Policy for TJ Admissions
- Past Policy for TJ Admissions
- Underrepresented Minorities at TJ
- Second School Board Work Session on TJ Admissions
- FCPS School Board Briefing on TJ Admissions Process
- 7-19-2012 School Board Work Session - TJ Admissions
- TJ Admission Statistics
Here's the meeting summary between Terri Breeden, FCPS Asst. Superintendent, and Beverly Jurenko, FCAG President.
Without a doubt, something has gone wrong in the TJ admissions process. A high percentage of students requiring math remediation impacts the quality of the school as a whole. Clearly, math admission standards need to be raised and the process needs reworking.
In response to these concerns, on September 12, 2013, the School Board voted unanimously in favor of Policy 3355.4, which defines TJ as a school for “students with exceptional quantitative skills.” Revised Part III of Policy 3355 also would give the new FCPS Superintendent, Dr. Karen Garza, authority to cease using the old “sliding scale” approach to selecting semifinalists.
This vote was preceded by testimony from 10 speakers, all of whom supported the proposed changes to Policy 3355:
According to TJ principal Evan Glazer, who serves on the administrative committee that Dr. Garza formed to revise Regulation 3355, “I support a rigorous process to ensure the students with greatest potential in STEM are not overlooked.”
This change has been in the works for over a year. Significant time and energy has gone into the wording of Policy 3355.4, and there is still much work to be done in revising Regulation 3355. Implementation of the new policy can now begin.
Click here for advice from Mr. Vern Williams, one of the best math teachers in the country, on TJ admissions.
Click here to read a Washington Post article about how TJHSST is missing the top math students. The article describes the views of Mr. Vern Williams, one of the best math teachers in the country. Mr. Williams is a highly respected math teacher at Longfellow Middle School. The Mathematics Association of America has given him two national awards. He was Presidentially appointed to serve on a National Mathematics Advisory Panel and has previously taught at the Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth.
Students applying to TJ must register take the TJ admissions test in October. The TJ test is in early December. Semifinalists are selected in late January based upon the score on the multiple choice portion of the TJ test and 7th and 8th grade GPA. In addition, as of 2009-2010, semifinalists must have: (1) a minimum test score of 65 out of 100; (2) a minimum math score of 30 out of 50; and (3) a minimum GPA of 3.0. Here's the FCPS student handbook to the TJ test (Note: This pdf is large and may take a few minutes to open.) and the FCPS guide to preparing for the test on your own.
Semi-finalists have 2-3 weeks to complete a Student Information Sheet and submit two teacher recommendations. One recommendation must be written by a math or science teacher. The second recommendation can be written by a teacher of any subject, a principal or counselor. For more information about the semi-finalist round, read FCPS instructions for semi-finalists.
In 2009-2010, all semifinalists then were evaluated for admission based on consideration of the following parts of the final application packet (weighting for each included in parentheses):
No other materials were considered for any applicant.
A copy of the 2009-2010 Guidelines given to evaluators who review the Student Information Sheets can be found here.
Based upon this review, rankings are established and students are admitted in rank order until 480 students are admitted. In 2010-2011, the TJ Admissions Office noted that: "[if] we have semifinalists with the same final evaluation scores where we can admit some, but not all, of those students, a lottery will be used to determine the final students offered admission. The remaining students will be the first students placed on a waiting list to be used in July 2011 if spaces are available."
In 2009-2010, 3,119 students applied to TJ. There were 1,553 semifinalists. In 2008-2009, approximately 2950 students took the TJ exam and there were approximately 1700 semi-finalists. For the first time in 2010, they added a waiting list of approximately 50 students. After the summer admissions process for new residents, waiting list students were notified in approximately July if space was available. For more information about TJ admissions, click here.
Here is TJ Taxi's UNOFFICIAL guide to TJ admissions (dated 2006). Please note that some information may be dated as the admissions process has changed somewhat since the guide was written. (Also note: This pdf is large and may take a few minutes to open.)
On September 2004, the FCPS School Board voted to change the process that is used to admit students to TJ. Under the new process, all students who score above specific minimum raw scores on the TJ admissions test and have more than a specific minimum GPA in their middle school academic classes become "semifinalists." To some extent, a high GPA can compensate for a low test score, and vice-versa. For example, a student with a 3.67+ GPA whose raw score on the TJ admissions test is 60% will progress to the second round. Conversely, a student with a 2.67 GPA whose raw score on the TJ admissions test is 90%+ will progress to the second round. Under this new system, students with unusually high test scores will not progress to the second round if their GPA is less than 2.67.
This new process was expected to result in about 1500 semifinalists during 2004-05. However, of the 2855 students who applied to TJ and took the TJ admissions test in December 2004, 1601 became semifinalists. In 2006-07, 2,728 took the admissions test and 1,666 students became semifinalists. This process weights grades more heavily than the former process of ranking applicants, where applicants were ranked based 80% on their test scores.
After reviewing the files of these roughly 1600 to 1700 semifinalists (including teacher recommendations and the student's list of activities, interest, and awards), TJ will admit 500 students, rather than the 450 students who had been admitted for a few years before 2005 or the 400 students who were admitted during most years before 1998.
According to the original documents about the new process, twelve criteria will be used to evaluate semifinalists, and three of those twelve criteria will measure academic ability and/or academic achievement. For information on the remaining criteria, see the October 2004 FCAG newsletter. In the last two years, the TJ admissions office has substantially modified the applications forms and teacher recommendation forms, so that they also focus less on academic achievements and more on intangibles, including the ability to work well in groups, etc. To see the 2006-07 forms, see the student information sheet, instructions for the student information sheet, teacher recommendation form, and teacher recommendation information form.
FCPS also has expanded the TJ admissions office, and Judy Howard has been hired as the admissions director. Judy Howard is the former co-chair of the TJ Diversity Committee, and a long-time member of the FCPS Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee, who spearheaded efforts to change the TJ admissions process. Judy Howard was appointed to the MSAOC by Janie Strauss, who represents the Dranesville area (primarily Herndon, Great Falls and McLean) on the School Board.
New 9/27/07: Vern Williams, the renowned GT math teacher from Longfellow MS, recently testified before the School Board to express grave concerns with the current TJ admissions process. Read his letter to the school board.
For more information about TJ, check out the TJ Website.
In December 2003, the Fairfax County School Board voted in favor of a resolution to form a blue ribbon panel on TJ admissions policies, with the goal of increasing underrepresented minorities (i.e., Black and Hispanic students) within the TJ student body. The panel recommendations were released to the public in June, 2004. The report can be found here. The proposal was to eliminate the use of any minimum test score or GPA requirement, and to give FCPS staff complete discretion to admit any student who applies. At meetings in the summer of 2004, FCPS staff members repeatedly indicated that they were not interested in requiring any minimum test scores. Instead, they prefer to use a holistic approach, which focused on leadership and other social skills, among other factors, consistent with the TJ mission statement that was rewritten in 2003-04 as part of the TJ accreditation process. Similarly, a student who expresses an interest in math, science or technology may be viewed as or more favorably as a student who demonstrates high achievement in those areas. Although the Blue Ribbon Commission report claimed that the current process admitted students who did not belong at TJ while rejecting stronger candidates, no data was made public to support this claim.
Other proposals in the fall of 2003 would have moved from an 800 pool to a 1200 or 1000 pool, which still required a minimum test score. In 2001, former Superintendent Domenech suggested imposing geographic quotas on the number of students admitted to TJ from various middle school neighborhoods. This suggestion was very controversial. From 2002-2004, FCPS admitted 30 extra students to TJ using a geographic preference. The process was discontinued because it was not effective. For example, in 2002, of the 29 students admitted through the geographical preference, 1 was Black, 3 were multiracial, 7 were Asian, 17 were white, 1 was other and 2 qualified for free and reduce meals.
Based upon pubilc data gathered over prior years, below are some charts that may be of interest:
- TJ admissions data from Glasgow, Hughes, Sandburg and Twain MS
- TJ race data for Black/Hispanic
- TJ admissions data for Black/Hispanic
- TJ students on free/reduced lunch
Parents have raised concerns that the current admissions process has not been effective in increasing the population of underrepresented minorities, that student attrition from TJ has increased since 2004, and that the emphasis on subjective factors (e.g., essays) has resulted in some exceptionally qualified math students being rejected from TJ. In November 2010, the TJ Parent Teacher Student Association Diversity Committee held a meeting to discuss ways to make TJ welcoming to underrepresented minorities. Here's a link to the Diversity Committee's Charter, the Powerpoint presentation from the meeting, and the action plan.
Click here for the 2011-2012 admissions outreach plan.
The next School Board work session is Monday, September 24th at 7 pm
In advance of the September 24 meeting, FCPS has posted a Powerpoint titled "Weighting of the TJ Admissions Semi-Finalist Components" which can be found here.
At the meeting, Tanisha Holland, the TJ Admissions Director and her boss, Terri Breeden (Assist. Superintendent of Professional Learning & Accountability) will be answering the questions posed by School Board members at the July 19th meeting. Those "next steps" requests can be found here.
FCAG's one-page summary of short-term (and some longer term) options to modify the 2012-2013 TJ admissions process can be found here. The summary addresses concerns raised by School Board members on both academic and diversity issues.
Responses to School Board Members' questions from the July 19, 2012 meeting are posted here.
The School Board had a work session about TJ admissions on July 19, 2012. Eight School Board members supported making changes to the TJ admissions process for 2011-12 to reduce the percentage of students admitted who need remediation in TJ's required math and science classes: Sandy Evans (Mason); Tammy Derenak Kaufax (Lee); Ryan McElveen (At Large); Megan McLaughlin (Braddock); Ilryong Moon (At Large); Patty Reed (Providence); Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield); and Dan Storck (Mt. Vernon).
Options will be considered at a public work session in September. In addition, FCPS staff will be producing further information about the TJ admissions process, to inform that discussion. If you have any thoughts or concerns about TJ admissions, you can email all School Board members at SchoolBoardMembers@fcps.edu. If you would like to email specific School Board members, their email addresses are available here.
Click here to see the FCAG Powerpoint on TJ Admissions.
Click here to see the Washington Post Article Discussing FCAG's Efforts on this issue.
Here are some relevant documents about TJ:
- Letter From TJ Math Teachers About Remediation
- Washington Post Article By TJ Teacher Dr. Dell
- Washington Post Article About Middle School Math Teacher Concerns About TJ
- Washington Post Article Editorial Board Concerned that Wrong Student May be Getting Into TJ
- Dr. Glazer's 7-19-12 Request On TJ Admissions
- TJ Principal's Powerpoint from the Town Hall Meeting from June 2012
Update (7/29/2012) - The following articles were published in response to the School Board Work Session
The Fairfax County School Board is scheduled to review existing TJHSST admissions criteria and report outreach strategies and outcomes.
- Overview of TJ Admissions Process
- Changes to TJ Admissions Since 2004
- TJ School Board Presentation - FINAL
7-19-10 School Board Work Session - TJ Admissions
The Fairfax County School Board held a work sesion on Monday, July 19, 2010 to discuss TJ admissions. Although the School Board decided, upon FCPS staff's recommendation, to make no new changes for the 2010-2011 admissions process, the following data about TJ admissions was made available to the public:
- TJ Admissions Presentation 7-19-10
- Blue Ribbon Commission Recommendations for TJHSST, June 2004
- Thomas Jefferson High School For Science and Technology Task Force for the Future, Executive Summary, February 2007
- Results and Reflection on the 2009-2010 SIP, A Focus on Continuous Improvement
- TJHSST Admissions Statistics from 2005-2010
- TJ Admissions by FCPS Middle School Classes 2010-2014
- Changes to TJHSST Admissions Since 2004
- Action Plan for Removing Barriers for Increased Enrollment of Underrepresented Students at TJHSST
An explaination of the data codes used in the detailed admissions statistics documents can be found here.
2003-04 Class of 2008
2007-08 Class of 2012
2008-09 Class of 2013
2009-10 Class of 2014 (Note: does not include the Summer Round 2010 applicants)
2010-11 Class of 2015 (Note: does not include the Summer Round 2011 applicants)
2011-12 Class of 2016 (Note: does not include the Summer Round 2012 applicants)
2012-13 Class of 2016 (Note: does not include the Summer Round 2012 applicants)