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A new admissions process has yielded increased diversity at Virginia's Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, considered one of the best public high schools in the country.

The Fairfax County Public Schools adopted a new admissions process this year -- after years in which Asian American enrollment exceeded 60 percent of the students at the school and Black and Latinx enrollments were low.

The new system eliminated a standardized admission test (which dominated admissions decisions), eliminated the $100 application fee, raised the minimum grade point average required and expanded the freshman class from 480 to 550. Seats in the freshman class were also allocated for the top 1.5 percent of applicants from every middle school. And for the first time in a decade, every middle school in the district sent at least one student to Thomas Jefferson. The new admission process is race blind; evaluators do not know the race of a student they are considering.

Nonetheless, the county collects statistics on those admitted: in terms of economic diversity, the class showed gains. Students from historically underrepresented schools increased from 5.56 percent to 30.73 percent. And the number of economically disadvantaged students increased from 0.62 percent to 25.09 percent.

Female students increased from 41.80 percent to 46 percent.

Asian students still remain a majority of the admitted class at 54.36 percent.

But other groups showed gains:

  • Black students increased from 1.23 percent to 7.09 percent.
  • Latinx students increased from 3.29 percent to 11.27 percent.
  • White students increased from 17.7 percent to 22.36 percent.

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