Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology retained its spot as Newsweek’s top high school in America for the third straight year.
Thomas Jefferson — TJ to locals — was also N0. 1 in Newsweek’s America’s Top High Schools in 2014 and 2015.
The school is located in Annandale, but draws from Fairfax County, as well as Arlington, Loudoun, and Prince William counties and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.
TJ earned 100 percent ratings for college readiness, an average Advanced Placement score of 96.4; an average ACT score of 33; and an average SAT score of 2,182.
TJ also had 164 semifinalists and 34 winners in this year’s National Merit Scholarships.
The top five schools in Newsweek’s rankings (they only consider public schools) were similar magnet schools.
TJ Principal Evan Glazer said it is a honor to earn top recognition, but the real impact of a TJ education is hard to measure in ranking metrics.
“I am really proud of our students and the teachers who help them get there,” said Glazer. “Because we are a science and technology school, kids here have the opportunity to decide how they want to pursue something that is challenging and unknown. Teacher then help them explore the subject in depth. They work incredibly hard and are prepared for the more innovative work that comes after the tests.”
The Newsweek ranking points out only 2.2 percent of TJ’s student body lives in poverty. That’s been somewhat of an issue. Earlier this year. Tina Hone, a former FCPS school board member, filed a federal complaint against the school on behalf of Coalition of Silence, advocacy group, and the Fairfax chapter of the NAACP.
The complaint says there is racial inequality at the school: 2.7 percent of the student population at Thomas Jefferson is Latino, but 22 percent FCPS enrollment in Fairfax County is Latino. Also, while FCPS is about 10 percent black students, they make up 1.5 of TJ students.
The complaint alleges that Fairfax County “…essentially operates a network of separate and unequal schools,” which leaves out Latinos, blacks and disabled students. The complaint further alleges that “for decades, these students have been grossly and disproportionately underrepresented in admission to the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.”
A Fairfax County Public Schools’ spokesman has said the school system has been working for years on ways to show more diversity in TJ admissions.
FCPS file photo