Who gets to go to the best public high school in the country?
That has been a contentious question for a community just outside of Washington, D.C., after school officials made changes to the admissions process for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology last year. The stated goal was to increase the diversity of students at the public magnet school, which U.S. News & World Report named the top in the nation. But opponents say the new policy illegally erects barriers for Asian American students. (EdSurge dug into the issue on a recent episode of the Bootstraps podcast series co-produced with the journalism nonprofit Open Campus.)
On Thursday, officials announced the racial and socioeconomic makeup of the first entering class at Thomas Jefferson, or TJ as everyone in town calls it, to be chosen under the new system—which included dropping an admissions test, eliminating an application fee and ensuring that top students from each eligible middle school get to attend.
The biggest impact occurred along lines of economic class.
The proportion of economically disadvantaged students increased from less than 1 percent to 25 percent, according to a report from Fairfax County Public Schools in the Virginia county where the high school resides.