EdStat: In 2003-04, the Percentage of Black and Hispanic Students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Dropped to 3.5 Percent

After the initial graduating classes at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) included relatively few black and Hispanic students, TJ Admissions created a referral committee to expand the enrollment of students from underrepresented groups. In making admissions decisions for the classes of 1997 through 2002, FCPS used this affirmative action program to admit black and Hispanic students whose test scores and grades ranked them below the qualifications of other students chosen for the semifinalist pool. During a spate of legal challenges to similar race-based programs, including one at an Arlington elementary school, the county was forced to end racial preference. The effect was immediate and dramatic: The percentage of black and Hispanic students at TJ dropped from a high of 9.4 percent schoolwide in 1997-98, when all four classes included students admitted via race-based affirmative action, to a low of 3.5 percent in 2003-04, when no classes did. To learn more, read the full article, “A Stubborn Excellence Gap.”

—Education Next

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