BREAKING: Lottery Admissions Plan for No. 1 High School. Earns 'F.'

Fairfax County to Eliminate Merit Admissions at No. 1 High School

By Asra Q. Nomani

Fairfax County Public Schools uploaded a flawed plan to eliminate the race-blind, merit-based admissions to America’s No. 1 high school and replace it with a euphemism it calls “merit lottery,” but there is little merit and more lottery.

The plan has already drawn wide criticism from parents and community members, earning an “F” for its failure to engage the public with transparency and offer effective strategies for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

Here is the plan with analysis to come in this column. Please add your comments below.

The bottomline: You get a 3.5 GPA and you get put into a “Merit Lottery.”

3:36 p.m. FCPS hasn’t even issued its proposal to the school board but the word has spread. Students, parents and community members hate it.

Some feedback.

ADMISSIONS MERIT LOTTERY PROPOSAL SCHOOL BOARD WORK SESSION 9/15/2020

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

1. TJ Admissions “Merit Lottery” Proposal

Fairfax County Public schools gives its “proposal” quite the euphemism: “merit lottery.” It’s an oxymoron. And this is not really a “proposal.” The timeline (below) makes it clear this is a scheme that is not a “proposal” but an action plan.

2. “Leading with equity”

Brabrand says TJ should “reflect the diversity of FCPS, the community and Northern Virginia.” FCPS officials are setting the stage for their final ultimatum: match TJ demographics to the demographics of “Northern Virginia,” to “enhance” another concept of critical race theory: “diversity and inclusion.”

Fairfax County implemented an “equity” plan, called “One Fairfax,” that was imported from consultants outside the county.

3. Setting the Benchmark

In Fairfax County, almost one of three Fairfax County public school students are economically disadvantaged students, and almost one of three students is an English language learner.

In Fairfax County, racial demographics split up this way: 37.8 percent are white; 19.5 percent are Asian; 26.8 percent are Hispanic; 9.8 percent are Black; and 5.8 percent are two or more races.

Remember the idea TJ should “reflect the diversity of FCPS” set forward? Now you know what’s coming….

4. Show the Asian Surge

Look at the data, they show. It’s a surge in Asians. The Asian invasion.

page5image1690945952

*FCPS students only

page5image1690949072

*FCPS students only

Raw numbers not provided due to confidentiality requirements pursuant to VA. Code 2.23705.4(1)

5

History of Admissions Changes

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

2011 (Class of 2016) – Outreach Specialist Position Created

2013 (Class of 2018) – Holistic Review
• Student Information Sheet proctored

2014 (Class of 2019) – Sliding Scale Adjusted
• Minimum semifinalist requirements lowered

2015 (Class of 2020) – Problem Solving Essay Added

2016 (Class of 2021) – Outreach Specialist Reduced to 0.5 Position

2017 (Class of 2022) – New Tests Introduced
• Quant-Q and ACT Aspire Reading & Science

These changes have not made a significant impact on

the application pool or admitted student demographics

6

Current Admissions Process

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

Application

• Application Fee ($100) • Core GPA 3.0
• Algebra I
• 8th grade/residency

Semifinalist Considerations

  • Percentile Ranks
    • Quant-Q
    • ACT Aspire Reading • ACT Aspire Science

  • Maintain Core GPA 3.0

    Holistic Review

    • Teacher Recommendations • Student Information Sheet
    • Problem Solving Essay
    • Percentile Ranks

    • Math & Science GPA

    Offers

    • Top 480-500 students receive offers

7

page7image1692342576page7image1692343232page7image1692343520page7image1692343808page7image1692344464page7image1692344880page7image1692345168page7image1692345744

Impact of Testing – Class of 2015

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

• Admissions Testing has been a barrier for historically underrepresented students to move to the semifinalist stage.

page8image1691005728page8image1691006032page8image1691006336

English Language Learners – 8.2% Economically Disadvantaged – 7.3%

English Language Learners – 4.1% Economically Disadvantaged – 1.6%

Raw numbers not provided due to confidentiality requirements pursuant to VA. Code 2.23705.4(1)

8

Impact of Testing – Class of 2019

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

• Admissions Testing has been a barrier for historically underrepresented students to move to the semifinalist stage.

English Language Learners – 2.6% English Language Learners – 1.1% Economically Disadvantaged – 6.0% Economically Disadvantaged – 2.1%

page9image1720425568page9image1720425872page9image1720426176

Raw numbers not provided due to confidentiality requirements pursuant to VA. Code 2.23705.4(1)

9

Impact of Testing – Class of 2024

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

• Admissions Testing has been a barrier for historically underrepresented students to move to the semifinalist stage.

English Language Learners – 2.7% English Language Learners – 0.6% Economically Disadvantaged – 7.2% Economically Disadvantaged – 1.4%

page10image1694449552page10image1882308480page10image1882308784

Raw numbers not provided due to confidentiality requirements pursuant to VA. Code 2.23705.4(1)

10

Merit Lottery Proposal

Expanding Our Talent Search

page11image1693423888

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

11

page11image1693418304

Process Overview

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

Current Process

Application Requirements • Coreclass3.0GPA
• EnrolledinAlgebraI
• ResidencyRequirements • ApplicationFee

• AssessmentPercentileRanking • Quant-Q

• ACT Aspire Reading & Science Holistic Review

• StudentInformationSheet
• GPA
• TeacherRecommendations
• Problem-solving Essay
• AssessmentPercentileRanking

Proposed Process
 Application Requirements

  • CoreClass3.5GPA

  • EnrolledinAlgebraI

  • ResidencyRequirements

  • Revised Student Information Sheet to include questionnaire/essay

     Selection by Merit Lottery Removes:

    • ApplicationFee
    • AssessmentPercentileRanking • TeacherRecommendations
    • Problem-solving Essay

page12image1720641920page12image1720642208

12

Merit Lottery Process

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

Students are placed into
lottery pathways after a holistic review.

Rolling

page13image1883523984page13image1883524576

AdmissioStnudsents are randomly selected within

their pathways. Process

page13image1883533856page13image1883534448

Offer letters are sent.

Students have a designated timeframe to accept or reject their offer.

Rolling admissions are established to keep a class of 500.

page13image1883552880page13image1883553472page13image1883554064page13image1883554912

13

Pathways

Pathways have been designed to ensure equitable access for students across all regions in FCPS and participating jurisdictions

  • Arlington County

  • Fairfax County

  • Falls Church City

  • Loudoun County

  • Prince William County

    Qualified students will be selected by a merit lottery within each pathway

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

page14image1864464544

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

14

Pathway Composition

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

page15image1691088768page15image1691089200
  • FCPS: 350 seats (70 per region)

  • Loudoun: 62 seats

  • Arlington: 18 seats

  • Falls Church: 2 seats

  • Prince William: 68 seats

  • Private school applicants will be assigned a pathway based on residency

Region 1 Region 2

Loudoun

Prince William

Region 5

page15image1691125952page15image1691126368

The numbers represented are based on the allowed ratio student cap for the 2019-2020 freshman application

Region 3
Region 4

page15image1691141728

15

FCPS Regional Pathways

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

page16image1834203328

Region 1 Carson Cooper Herndon Hughes Thoreau

Region 2 Glasgow Holmes Jackson Kilmer Longfellow Poe

Region 3 Hayfield Key Sandburg Twain Whitman

Region 4 Irving
Lake Braddock Liberty Robinson South County

Region 5 Franklin Frost Lanier Rocky Run Stone

page16image1834235824page16image1834236112page16image1834236400page16image1834236688page16image1834236976

Applicants will be placed in Region based on the students’ base school

page16image1834245888

16

Rolling Admissions Process

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

page17image1834339552page17image1834340272

Each pathway will maintain a list of students not chosen in the initial merit lottery. Students will be placed on the list in the order their names were drawn.

AdmissOipoeninsgs in each pathway will be filled with the first name on the list for that pathway.

page17image1834370944

Rolling

page17image1834372976

Process

page17image1834374576page17image1834375168

Should a non-FCPS pathway exhaust its list of students, the next eligible candidate off the FCPS list will be chosen.

As needed, additional applicants will be offered on the 1st and 15th of every month through end of 1st Quarter in order to maintain a class of 500.

Any student who declines the offer of admission will be removed from eligibility.

page17image1834415776page17image1834416368page17image1834416656page17image1834371648

17

Impact of Merit Lottery – Class of 2015

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

page18image1691063264

Percent of Offered Students Using Current Holistic Process

Percent of Offered Students Using Merit Lottery

page18image1690918304page18image1690918608page18image1690918912

Economically Disadvantaged: 2.9% English Language Learners: 0.8%

Economically Disadvantaged: 7.0% English Language Learners: 8.9%

Raw numbers not provided due to confidentiality requirements pursuant to VA. Code 2.23705.4(1)

18

Impact of Merit Lottery – Class of 2019

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

Percent of Offered Students Using Current Holistic Process

Percent of Offered Students Using Merit Lottery

Economically Disadvantaged: 8.8% English Language Learners: 2.3%

page19image1883613616page19image1883613920page19image1883614224

Economically Disadvantaged: 1.2% English Language Learners: 1.0%

Raw numbers not provided due to confidentiality requirements pursuant to VA. Code 2.23705.4(1)

19

Impact of Merit Lottery – Class of 2024

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

Percent of Offered Students Using Current Holistic Process

Percent of Offered Students Using Merit Lottery

Economically Disadvantaged: 10.3% English Language Learners: 3.4%

page20image1721191856page20image1721192160page20image1721192464

Economically Disadvantaged: 0.6% English Language Learners: 0.6%

Raw numbers not provided due to confidentiality requirements pursuant to VA. Code 2.23705.4(1)

20

Critical Decision Timeline:

dCurrent Process

• Application • Fall

• OrderingofTestingMaterials
• Beginning of October (paper or online)

• Testing
• Late Fall

• SemifinalistRelease • Mid –January

page21image1834493616

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

21

Final Offers • April

Critical Decision Timeline:

dRevised Process

Board and Community Input
• CommunityOutreach/TownHalls

• Late September/early October • FinalProposal

• October 8 School Board meeting If Recommended

• Targeted Outreach
• Revisions to Regulation 3355

• Late fall
• Development of Revised Process

• Fall/winter • Application

• December/January

• Implement Merit Lottery • February/March

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

22

Targeted Outreach

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

Present to students in every public school (FCPS and participating jurisdictions)

Present to parents and the community in evening sessions Send recruitment emails/letters to all eligible students

Conduct a virtual open house to include a tour, student speakers, teachers presenting their programs, and an overview of student supports

Conduct targeted recruitment of underrepresented students

page23image1834644464page23image1834644752page23image1834645696page23image1834645984page23image1834646768page23image1834647056

23

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

Additional Work

  • Enhancingtheadmissionsprocessisone step in a multi-pronged strategy

  • Enhancingandexpandingthepipelineby ensuring equitable access to rigorous STEM instruction at the elementary and middle school level

  • EnsuringaCaringCultureforallTJHSST students

    • Transition resources for students

    • Professional development for staff

• Supporting unique needs of all learners

• Wrap-around support for students

24

School Board Work Session 9/15/2020

Appendix

Links to other schools using a Lottery System. Many of these schools are highly rated (US News Report) and use a similar variety of the lottery model to select students.

http://www.enrollbasis.com/enrollment/enrollment-faqs/ (Basis – Arizona)https://www.gcpsk12.org/domain/6040 (Gwinnett)

https://ics.lwsd.org/about-us/application-process (International Community School - Washington)

http://www.mps.k12.al.us/for_parents/magnet_schools (Loveless/Montgomery Schools)

https://rahs.highlineschools.org/admissions/lottery-process (Raisbeck)https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/national-rankings/stem