Thomas Jefferson High School adopts a ‘holistic review’ approach to admissions

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The board voted 10-1 in favor of the new system.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — Thomas Jefferson High School, the elite math and science school in Fairfax County, will adopt a so-called “holistic review” to their admissions process.

The school board voted on Thursday night to make amendments to the original admissions policy in an effort to increase diversity at Thomas Jefferson.

Fairfax County will identify all eighth graders who qualify for admission. Students must be in the top 1.5% of each of their classes, an unweighted 3.5 GPA, and will have to submit a problem-solving essay. The changes come despite months of protests against the reform by the school’s parents, students and alumni.

“I hope the community knows, that even if the decision hasn’t gone the way you advocated for, your input was essential,” said school board member Melanie Meren during Thursday night’s meeting.

Meren also mentioned the school board’s commitment to fighting systemic racism, adding that revising the admissions process is still a work in progress.

“For those of you who wanted more on this tonight, I do believe that we are seeking out anti-racist work and eradicating racism is as essential as anything else that we do,” said Meren.

Thomas Jefferson is also freshening up its recruitment. The school plans to send its information to eligible students, as well as hosting virtual open houses in multiple languages.

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