More TJ Students Students Are Dropping Out

by Asra Nomani

For months now, parents and community members have been hearing distressing stories about how educrats failed students in their rush to fill the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Class of 2025 through lower academic admissions standards hastily implemented in December 2020.

The school started a new remedial Algebra 1 after-school program and the school is seeing Class of 2025 students dropping out at an alarming rate, by most accounts because they weren’t prepared academically for the rigorous coursework.

My data analysis: Record numbers of freshmen students fleeing TJ

For example, in data that I pulled from the school district’s official website, the school district reported that of the 550 students admitted in the Class of 2025, the school started off — first of all — with only 541 students in September 2021.

One student from the Class of 2025 left the school in October. Two students left in November. Another four students left in December. One more departed in January, with two more leaving in February and then another two more saying goodbye to TJ in March, bringing the Class of 2025 to 529 students.

That’s 12 students who dropped out of the school to return to their base school, most likely. The number may not seem large but consider that only one student dropped out the entire year before from the Class of 2024.

Now, courtesy of the Fairfax County Association for the Gifted, a nonprofit advocating for advanced academic students, the evidence is in about how the Fairfax County School Board set kids up to fail.

The parents were right. Not only did the school district discriminate against Asian students — as concluded by federal judge Claude Hilton in late February — but the evidence is in that it discriminated against the most advanced of students, kids who are vulnerable to dropping out of school, depression and marginalization and bullying, much like special education students, when they don’t receive educational services aligned with their learning level.

Instead of smears like “retard” and “idiot” flung at children with traditionally understood special education needs, advanced students are often bullied as “geeks,” “nerds” and “weirdos.” Unfortunately, in a rush to virtue signal, activists and educrats have further marginalized these students and their families (very often, Asian) as “resource hoarders” and even, laughably, “segregationists.”

Below is the full report. You can download it at this link.

Here are some of the most alarming findings.

Report: “TJHSST Class of 2025 … almost halved the proportion of students with the highest math level.”

  • Admissions officers admitted students in the Class of 2025 with less advanced math than the year before. Compared to TJ Class of 2024, the proportion of students admitted in the Class of 2025 with Algebra 2 or higher completed in 8th grade decreased by almost a whopping 50%, from 35% to 18%.

It’s often difficult for educrats schooled in the liberal arts to understand but advanced math — including subjects like multivariable calculus — is key to advanced learning in the science fields, from artificial intelligence and machine learning to physics.

The Class of 2025 had 161 students, or about one of three students, of the 550 students admitted with only Algebra 1 under their belt. That number was way more than the 22 students admitted in the Class of 2024 with only Algebra 1 or 31 students admitted in the Class of 2023 with a similar math level, or about only 5% of the both classes. Fairfax County Public Schools didn’t release math data on 37 students admitted in the Class of 2025.

Report: “Almost 40% of FCPS students admitted to TJ Class of 2025 were not participating in the most rigorous coursework available in 8th grade, constituting over 20% of all admitted students.”

  • Admissions officers chose a lower percentage of advanced learners in the Class of 2025 than the Class of 2024. About 117 students of the 500 students, or about one of three, or 38%, of Fairfax County Public School students admitted to the TJ Class of 2025 were not participating in Level IV Advanced Academic Program coursework in 8th grade. Those students made up over 20% of admitted students to TJ Class of 2025.

Report: “Admission rate for academically advanced students in FCPS is the same as the admission rate for all students.”

  • Advanced learning didn’t make a difference for admission into the Class of 2025. Level IV Advanced Academic Program students take the most academically challenging courses in English, social studies and science offered by the county to eighth graders, considered more difficult than honors classes, for example. However, students receiving Advanced Academic Program Level IV services were “equally likely” to be admitted to TJ as students overall, at a percentage of about 18%.

The Fairfax County Association of the Gifted said about these students: “These would generally be the most academically motivated, advanced, gifted, and capable students, as the coursework for AAP Level IV services is more demanding than the Honors coursework, which in turn is considered more demanding than the regular courses. In middle school, Level IV courses include only social studies, science and English.”

The Fairfax County Association for the Gifted concluded, “This outcome is all but ensured by design,” because the new admissions process gave “bonus points” to students from “underrepresented schools,” most without advanced students. In fact, it noted that 93 seats of the 550 seats in the Class of 2025 were reserved for students from schools without advanced programs.

It noted that over 20% of the TJ class was “selected from the 80% of students who were not participating in the most advanced academic program offered in middle school.”

Report: “Fairfax County had the lowest reported admissions rates, and much lower admissions rates than Arlington and Prince William County.”

  • About 16% of Fairfax County applicants were admitted, while over 27% of Arlington County applicants and over 30% of Prince William County applicants were admitted. Former Virginia Education Secretary Atif Qarni worked closely with Prince William County School Board Chair Babur Lateef, both close friends as part of the Pakistani American diaspora community, to push through the admissions changes in 2020. Loudoun County, which has a high percentage of students from the families of immigrants from India, settling in the county for technology jobs, had only 17% acceptance.

This column has been republished with permission from Asra Investigates.