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Admissions Policy Challenge

The US Supreme Court yesterday declined to review a case challenging the use of socioeconomic factors in the admissions criteria at a prestigious northern Virginia high school. A group of parents claims the policy discriminates against Asian Americans. 

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia—often named among the best US high schools—overhauled its admissions policy in 2020 to increase diversity without explicitly considering race. The changes included nixing an entrance exam and prioritizing the top 1.5% of the eighth grade class at each of the district's middle schools.

Under the new system, the freshman class in 2021 included 54% Asian American students (down from 73%), 7% Black students (up from 1%), and 11% Hispanic students (up from 3%). In the current school year, those offered admissions include 61.6% Asian American students, 6.7% Black students, and 6% Hispanic students.

The Supreme Court's action leaves in place an appeals court ruling that found the new policy didn't show a racially disparate effect on Asian American students.

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