TJ Drops in Quality Rankings, Again

Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) used to be the #1 high school in the country in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings.  It achieved this status in three consecutive years — 2020, 2021 and 2022.  But it slipped to #5 in 2023.  And it has dropped to #14 in the just-released 2024 rankings.

It’s no surprise. The decline is the inevitable consequence of elevating “equity” over excellence.  In 2020, then-Superintendent Scott Braband announced the School Board’s determination that DEI would no longer be “a thing”; it would henceforth be “the thing” in the Fairfax County public school system.  TJ was the obvious first target for this “social justice” initiative because more than 70% of its students, admitted under rigorous academic criteria, were Asian Americans.  The racial imbalance was deemed unacceptable.  Therefore, the Board decided to downplay academic standards for admission in favor of demographic criteria;  the new standards were intentionally designed to increase the percentage of other racial and ethnic groups at the expense of Asian Americans.  In a county with 30 quality secondary schools, the Board couldn’t tolerate having even one in which academic excellence was paramount.

TJ’s ranking among elite high schools will probably be degraded even further in the future.  U.S. News’ ratings depend on data pertaining to the four-year cohort of high school freshmen through seniors, but TJ’s downgraded standards haven’t yet affected four years of TJ students.

To date, there has been no indication that the School Board or its administrators are concerned about the decline.

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  1. Karen Quiner on April 24, 2024 at 7:50 am

    What a shame. As with so many things, I think “now they’ll see“, and they never do.

    • Valerie Waddelove on April 26, 2024 at 8:11 pm

      When you see the decline in TJ performance, lower test scores, the Certificate debacle, and now the Fairfax Board of Supervisors wants to increase taxes and FCPS wants more money for schools, perhaps it’s time to pull back on some of the new “curriculum”, administrators, and legal expenses.

  2. Jeff Leach on April 24, 2024 at 8:06 am

    Another example of racism over excellence by the left. There needs to be a continuing series of lawsuits by Asian Americans and local political restructuring.

    • Paulette Altmaier on April 24, 2024 at 10:59 am

      The lawsuits have run their course, unfortunately. The Board clearly had racial goals in mind when they changed admissions, but they cleverly used a process SCOTUS had previously approved for Univ of Texas. SCOTUS only takes cases where their ruling can make a difference, and there wasn’t an available avenue for that.

      • Mark Spooner on April 24, 2024 at 1:00 pm

        Paulette: Your are absolutely right about the timing of the court cases. The court of appeals rushed its decision in the TJ case, knowing the Supreme Court would be ruling soon in the Harvard and North Carolina Asian-American-discrimination cases. If the TH court had waited, it would have been harder to issue its poorly-reasoned decision upholding TJ’s discriminatory practices. It would have been compelled to follow what the Supreme Court had just decided. Although a petition was filed by the Coalition for TJ for review by the Supreme Court, the Court didn’t take the case, since it had already decided the Harvard/NC cases so recently.

  3. Rich Altmaier on April 24, 2024 at 9:29 am

    Current board members will see TJ as 100% success. No questions to ask. No standard but a racial standard.

  4. Paulette Altmaier on April 24, 2024 at 10:56 am

    The Board won’t care. Academic excellence is not their goal. A racial spoils system, trans grooming et al are.

  5. Justin on April 24, 2024 at 7:09 pm

    If the school board keeps up this great work, all of TJ’s incoming freshman will be caught up with their remedial math by the end of the school year! Keep up the great work school board (i.e. Fairfax County voters) 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻