Education A National Roundup

Elite Virginia Magnet School Revises Admissions Policy

By Catherine Gewertz — September 22, 2004 1 min read

In an effort to diversify its student population, a Virginia magnet school has revised the way it will admit incoming freshmen. (“Affirmative Reaction,” Feb. 6, 2002.)

Beginning next spring, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, in Alexandria, will expand the pool of applicants who make the first cut in the review for admission, the Fairfax County school board decided on Sept. 9.

Applications will be reviewed on a “sliding scale” basis, meaning that the school will balance applicants’ grade point averages with their scores on the school’s admission test. That allows students who don’t test well to compensate with better grades, and those with lower grades to compensate with strong test scores, said district spokesman Paul Regnier.

In the past, the highly selective school gave applicants’ admission test scores 80 percent of the weight, and their grade point averages 20 percent. The top 800 students in that review made the first cut.

The change could expand the first-cut pool of 800 to 1,200 or more, Mr. Regnier said. Applicants in the first-cut group submit writing samples, teacher recommendations, and extracurricular activities for further review. Admission is offered to about 400 students.

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