Thomas Jefferson High School’s New Admission Process: A Step Towards Diversity or a Setback For Excellence?


From the National Archives Catalog

Office of the Administrator at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technologies’ admission process has been a topic of debate these past two years due to its lack of diversity. The school officials responded to this situation by having a new admissions process be implemented.

In previous articles written about this topic people would post their opinions in the comment section. “Affirmative action does not create opportunities. It takes them from those who deserve them and gives them from those who do not deserve them,” one writes. Another comment made is “How can you tell a kid is more qualified from just reading a 13-year-old personal statements?”  However, the people who have set this new admissions process haven’t spoken much about it since.

We have the supporters of the new application process and critics of the new process. The supporters argue that the process was a step towards creating a more diverse school environment. They bicker that the old admissions process was biased towards students who have money for expensive prep courses, etc.

However, the critics of the new process argue that it could be a step that will make education at the school go downhill. They say it will dilute Thomas Jefferson high school for science and technology’s (TJHSST) ranking or the school’s curriculum. They say that the new process will disadvantage high achieving students specifically because there also is a lottery.

The Washington Post explains the lottery as “the 100 ‘highest-evaluated’ applicants would earn places at the school, while the remaining 450 seats would be filled through a random lottery of all qualified eighth-graders. Under the “holistic review” proposal, all 550 students would be admitted through the evaluation process”

A current sophomore that had previously attended TJHSST her freshman year says “TJHSST was a place that taught me many things, mostly how  to manage my time, but it also wasted my time because when  I transferred out, my knowledge truly started to shine” She also says  that TJHSST made her doubt her capabilities.

Their acceptance rate has significantly increased since this new process because it is getting much easier; it’s gone from 13.8 percent to 27.6 percent over the past eight years.

The whole reason that TJHSST has been ranked the top high school by U.S. News in America these past years is because of its curriculum and the new admissions process is letting in students that might be brining the ranking down. “TJHSST provides a comprehensive curriculum, emphasizing the sciences, mathematics, and technology,” their website says. As seniors, students are required to do a research lab all on their own as well.

Many students who would have been accepted to TJHSST with the required GPA or higher are now being waitlisted or declined all because of the Portrait of a Self-Graduate, which goes assesses a student’s personality. This goes against the school’s emphasis on academic excellence.

TJHSST’s future remains to be decided since we do not have an actual up to date ranking to see if the new admissions process had a positive or negative impact.