A Rejoinder on the TJ “Fall”

Before folks got carried away with sarcasm and “I told you so,” it would have been best to examine a few facts regarding the ranking by U.S. News and World Report of the Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology (TJ):

  • The ranking fell to fifth last year. The data for that ranking pre-dated the change in the admission process for TJ;
  • The changes in the admissions process were adopted in 2020 and were first effective for the class entering in the fall of 2021. Those students would be juniors this year.

Next, it is worthwhile to examine the criteria used by U.S. News:

  • College readiness (30 percent)– proportion of a school’s 12th graders who took and earned a qualifying score on Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams in the 2021-2022 academic year;
  • College curriculum breadth (10 percent)—percentage of a school’s 2021-2022 12th graders who took, and the percentage who earned qualifying scores on, multiple AP or IB exams;
  • State assessment proficiency (20 percent)–standardized tests measuring student proficiency in subjects related to mathematics, reading and science. Data was “based on 2021-2022 state assessment data” (Emphasis added);
  • State assessment performance (20 percent)—This score is calculated based on the total assessment scores compared with what U.S. News predicted for a school with its demographic characteristics in its state. As the magazine explains, “In all 50 states, there is a very significant statistical relationship between the proportion of a student body that is Black, Hispanic and/or from a low-income household – defined as being eligible for free or subsidized school lunch – and a school’s results on state assessments. Schools performing best on this ranking indicator are those whose assessment scores far exceeded U.S. News’ modeled expectations.”  This year’s score is based on 2021-2022 data;
  • Underserved student performance (10 percent)—“This is a measure assessing learning outcomes only among Black, Hispanic and low-income students.” As with the others, it is based on 201-2022 data;
  • Graduation rate (10 percent)—Percentage of students who entered in the 2018-2019 school year who graduated in 2022.

Conclusion:  the fall to 14th in the rankings is attributable to the students who entered TJ before the change in the admissions process took effect.  It cannot be said to be the result of “lowering of standards” in the admissions process.

At this point, it is worthwhile to add some perspective.  The rankings can be volatile. In 2018, the school was ranked 10th, and in 2019, 4th, followed by three straight years as no.1, and a no. 5 ranking last year before this year’s ranking of 14.  As the top data analyst at U.S. News noted, the smallest differences can affect rankings.  “At these top schools, everyone graduates, everyone’s proficient in their state assessments, everyone’s getting a qualifying score on APs,” he said. “So we’re really splitting hairs on the number of AP exams of qualifying scores or the number that earns the highest performance level on math, science and reading.”–RWH


Share this article



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)



ADVERTISEMENT

(comments below)


Comments

39 responses to “A Rejoinder on the TJ “Fall””

  1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Mr. Dick is right about splitting hairs. The margins of difference between the top schools are almost imperceptible to the eye. However, the Ivy League’s fall from Mt. Olympus is very real.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Fun to watch the folks in Austin kicking ass and taking names when the Hamas Terror Team tried to take over UT. Don’t mess with Texas.

      1. Teddy007 Avatar

        Until the lawsuits over this hit the federal courts.

  2. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar
    LarrytheG

    Do we know which of the individual factors fell?

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      It is one of the best schools at prepping high end kids for math and science programs in college out of the thousands around the US. Nothing of consequence has changed. It is a non-story but for the anti-DEI narrative.

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      It is one of the best schools at prepping high end kids for math and science programs in college out of the thousands around the US. Nothing of consequence has changed. It is a non-story but for the anti-DEI narrative.

  4. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    Accountability is accountability. To move up, TJ has some work to do given that it is very hard to split hairs when you are at the top.

    If the mission and vision have changed, a more diverse population, then the organization must attend to the practices that address the new mission or the vision will not be realized.

    Nothing beats change to make improvements.

  5. Teddy007 Avatar

    Under the old system, there would have been fewer Hispanic or black students and that would also have lowered the rankings.

  6. William O'Keefe Avatar
    William O’Keefe

    Thank you Dick for taking the time to dig into the facts.

  7. Carter Melton Avatar
    Carter Melton

    This reminds me of a “rankings” issue when I was running the hospital.

    One of our neighboring hospitals was once ranked in the top 50 in America for its “geriatrics” service. This was news to me, because I didn’t know they had a geriatrics service.

    Turns out they didn’t :>0 ! Some admistrative intern had filled out some annual reporting forms incorrectly.

    Even though we were twice named the number 1 independent community hospital in the country, I never put any banners up because I didn’t want to run the risk of having to use the canvas to wipe the egg off my face.

  8. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    You’re making a decent argument for not doing a victory dance, but it is only delaying the inevitable. Why was there a change in the admissions criteria? Who was in charge to decide that was necessary? The fall will be further, and I am not arguing to believe all of the ratings systems. But there was a conscious decision to back off from pure academic excellence. The rot will continue until stopped, and sanity restored.

    1. Carter Melton Avatar
      Carter Melton

      Intuitively, I am right there with you.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        You mean, absent serious thought?

    2. LarrytheG Avatar
      LarrytheG

      Walter, can you take a child who is equal in IQ but behind in academics and catch him/her up with the others by giving them access to the same tools and resources the others got that they did not?

      1. Stephen Haner Avatar
        Stephen Haner

        Yes, but it is way easier if you don’t wait until high school to try. The disparity you see at graduation goes back to the first few years. Which is why the Lost Covid Years are going to matter to many.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar
          LarrytheG

          It does go back years but when some parents pay for years of extra tutoring and help while
          others cannot afford it… it’s not purely about “academics”, but I agree, not easy to fix after
          the fact.

          1. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
            f/k/a_tmtfairfax

            Larry, for decades, FCPS offered free tutoring for kids who had academic abilities and an interest in attending TJ but whose parents could not afford private tutoring. All they had to do was request the help.

        2. Matt Adams Avatar
          Matt Adams

          We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the impacts that the Lost Covid years will bring.

      2. Teddy007 Avatar

        No, if someone is behind entering TJ, then will be farther behind the average student when leaving TJ. In many instances the student would probably tire of being near the bottom of their class and will just go back to their neighborhood high school. That might be one of the reasons that TJ’s rating has slipped.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar
          LarrytheG

          could be. Do we know how many “go back”?

          1. Teddy007 Avatar

            Under the old system it appears to be around 5%. However, if the school is really admitting lower qualified students, the number should go up. Who wants to be last in the class of really smart people.

      3. walter smith Avatar
        walter smith

        Oh, so now you are arguing for the validity of IQ tests? Racist!!!
        Why not take all of the highest IQ students in the Commonwealth and send them to TJ? Why not the US? Life is inherently unfair. But the great thing about the US before you Marxists starting this version of its godless religion was that there was equal opportunity under the law, which allowed class mobility and made for great prosperity.
        TJ made the decision to stop using objective criteria to focus on something other than pure STEM excellence. Results will fall. It’s like saying an Olympic athlete will do better competing against high-schoolers instead of similar world class athletes. Nose on face obvious.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar
          LarrytheG

          Do all kids with good IQs have equal access to higher level academic study?

          Do we ignore the academics if they have sports talent?

          1. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            NO. All kids do not have equal support and short of full blown Red Army uniforms and pulling every single person down there is nothing you can do about that!!!!
            And quit arguing IQ…racist!
            Does a genius in Wise VA have the same opportunities as a genius in NoVA? No. Does anybody in the US, on the margin, have a better opportunity than almost anyone anywhere else in the world? Yes. Quit screwing it up with your ridiculous Marxist ideology. Someone better than all of us made a comment about always having the poor with you… I think He was on to something.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar
            LarrytheG

            is that why we have public education? Otherwise, the “life is not fair” thing is very real?
            socialism? Red Army stuff?

          3. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar
            f/k/a_tmtfairfax

            Larry, read my earlier post. Free tutoring was and is available.

    3. Bob X from Texas Avatar
      Bob X from Texas

      It is Racist to ask questions about the DEI agenda.

    4. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Victory dance? Why? Because should others fail, you feel better about yourself?

      1. walter smith Avatar
        walter smith

        No. Because sane people tried to warn you. The whole agenda of the Left (look in the mirror) is to feel better about themselves as “virtuous” without actually doing virtue. So, when your virtue-signaling produces the bad results warned of, instead of demanding more of your interventions to make it even worse, again, acknowledge that the critics had a point.

        1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
          Dick Hall-Sizemore

          The Fairfax County School Board actally “did virtue”. You are claiming “bad results” without waiting for the results to come about. The first class admitted under the the revised process will graduate in 2025. There seems to be a two-year lag in compiling the rankings, so we will know in 2027 how that class stacked up against other schools across the country.

          1. John Fisher Avatar
            John Fisher

            So in 2027 we’ll know that water is wet.

          2. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Here is a better response…but from Roger Scruton –
            Liberty inevitably leads to inequality and people obsessed with equity have no answer to this conundrum. Scruton: “If liberation involves the liberation of individual potential, how do we stop the ambitious, the energetic, the intelligent, the good-looking and the strong from getting ahead?”
            Stop trying to mandate the outcome through manipulation! We already had the fairest system in the world. Let’s get back to it. Oh, can you stop the lawfare and insanity, too, please? And acknowledge reality as to the two sexes? You know…SCIENCE!

          3. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            No, they did virtue-signaling. Not virtue. They chose to reward people less qualified, and to exclude people more qualified. I’m 5’11’ and can’t touch the rim, but I should get to play center!
            Different people are different and have different abilities. Tilting the field to obtain a theoretical, Marxist-based non-reality, will only lower quality. But don’t worry….FCSB will tilt the measurement criteria to claim this didn’t lower standards. Sorta like how our govt tells us inflation really isn’t that bad…

  9. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Yeah, yeah, but DE&I….

  10. Not Today Avatar
    Not Today

    Not holding my breath for a retraction of yet another smarmy, fact-free smear campaign/screed against equity and inclusion.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Alternative facts.

  11. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Trump economic ideas.
    1) Weaken the dollar
    2) 10% tariffs on all imports
    3) Extend tax breaks for the wealthy
    4) Deport into a labor shortage.

    That FFV Plantation Trust had better be big to carry somebody through retirement.

  12. LarrytheG Avatar
    LarrytheG

    Isn’t the concept of public education itself – fundamentally DEI where every kid, regardless of who they are and their standing , is entitled to a free education paid for by taking money from others?

    pure socialism!

Leave a Reply