TJHS, Satellites, and the Asian Quota
The other day, I was DuckDuckGoing "the best high school in America", and discovered the Thomas Jefferson High School (TJHS) in the search results . TJHS is a public high school in Alexandria, Virginia.
While one may disagree with the ranking, I would point out that TJHS students can at least boast of the development of a cubesat. TJHS parents can truthfully claim that their kid is a rocket scientist.
So, one might ask, how did TJHS do it? Well it seems there was something called an admissions test. Admission to TJHS was determined by your performance on a test. You may, like many students, not be a fan of admissions tests, but is difficult to argue with the results. The admissions test process propelled TJHS to its number one status. And they did put a satellite in space.
Paradoxically, the admissions test is causing TJHS administrators problems. Why? Because, while it may have made TJHS number one, it seems to have had a secondary consequence: seventy percent of the TJHS population is Asian.
So now TJHS is implementing a lottery based admissions, or what some are calling, in effect, an "Asian Quota". If that sounds remotely familiar, it might be because you are remembering the "Jewish Quota" we had in academia last century. And the Asian parents of TJHS are complaining.(No, I am neither Asian nor Jewish.)
Arguments have been made for and against the lottery and are readily available online. The validity of these arguments depends to a certain extent on your political leanings, understanding of pedagogy, and whether or not you are a parent.
It is a little surprising to me that the administrators are apparently quite happy to play social experiments with our number one school. What if the Asian parents are correct and TJHS performance plummets? In any event, the experiment is in play. In four years, we will know.
UPDATE#1 HS math teachers note 'lowering of standards'