In a closely watched case regarding the admissions policy of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a ruling in favor of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) that allows the controversial “new” system, with the 1.5% rule and consideration of “experience factors” to continue. The decision was made 2-1 vote in favor, which came from judges appointed by Democratic presidents. The sole judge appointed by a Republican president dissented, arguing that the new admissions system produced a biased outcome. The Coalition for TJ has vowed to fight the ruling and will petition the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court's involvement depends on whether four justices agree to hear the case. Given the court's 6-3 conservative lean, as well as their expected rulings in the similar Harvard and UNC affirmative action cases, if the supreme court decides to hear the case, the new admissions system would very likely be ruled unconstitutional. In such a scenario, the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) would need to either eliminate the use of the experience factors and the 1.5% rule, and/or add other elements to the admissions process. It is extremely unlikely that the Student Portrait Sheet (SPS) and Problem Solving Essay (PSE) would be eliminated, as they existed under both the old process and the new process.
The Coalition for TJ sees its struggle as a battle against racism and inequality. They draw parallels to historical resistance to integration and assert that the FCPS school board's defense of the admissions policy perpetuates discrimination against Asian American students. Their fight is not only for affected students but also for the core values of equality and merit.
With the Fourth Circuit's ruling allowing the TJHSST admissions system to continue, the Coalition for TJ remains determined to pursue justice. They aim to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, fighting against what they believe is unconstitutional discrimination. The outcome of this legal battle will shape the future of TJHSST's admissions process and its impact on equal opportunity in education. However, given that a Supreme Court ruling would be at least 1-2 years away if they even decide to take the case, students will continue to be under the new admissions system that started in the Fall of 2020 for admissions to the Class of 2025.
Regardless of the final court ruling, the courses at TJTestPrep will be updated to match the chosen admissions format. Students who have already enrolled with us will not be required to re-enroll to get access to these changes. We will continue to keep a close eye on the situation.