AHS is a better place to learn the world

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In AHS hallways, students are exposed to students with very different backgrounds. We are not aware of the fact that this is a gift, but at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), it is rare to see any form of diversity.

There are apparent differences between AHS and TJHSST in the ethnicity distribution, levels of academic achievements, courses, test scores and Grade Point Averages (GPAs). TJHSST opens its door only to students who achieve high traditional entrance exam and top GPAs.

A recent data show the school accepted roughly 15% out of its 3,000 Class of 2014 applicants, meaning its acceptance rate was lower than the University of Virginia’s.
The TJHSST Class of 2009 students’ average SAT scores were very competitive: 747 on Math, 723 on Critical Reading, and 714 on Writing.

On the other hand, the combined national average SAT scores range from 1500 to 1600 while TJHSST students score 2100-2200 on average.

With its competitive curriculum and admission chance, the school prepares its students well for higher education, but seems to lack preparation for a bigger world.

How would typical TJHSST students feel when encountered with people whose standardized test scores and GPA are “low,” by their standards? TJHSST students will also experience uneasiness with adjusting to ethnic diversity.

Finding academic and even ethnic diversity at TJHSST has always been more difficult than getting into the school. Out of about 1700 TJHSST students, Hispanic and Black races cover only a sparse population of 4%, while at AHS they make up approximately half of the student population.

The TJHSST is a magnet school and therefore admits students who have shown academic aptitude through entrance exams, not by their race. However, like universities across the nation, the school could promote diversity by giving opportunities to potential students with special interest in science or math.

During the admissions process, many talented students can be overlooked by the traditional admissions factors: GPA and test scores.

It also seem that the high percentage of Asian races at TJHSST is a result of rigorous math and science education in Asian countries. However, this does not necessarily mean that they all have the natural ability, creativity and potential and determination needed to succeed in science and technology fields.

The diversity at AHS is a gift to all its students. We are naturally exposed to different people and are likely to absorb new things more quickly.

TJHSST should continue to select students who have shown impressive intellectual quality, but also determine their characters and potentials.

The school ought to turn away from high test scores and grades, as they do not necessarily determine whether the student could contribute to scientific and technological developments in the future or not.

There is a 7-year old student whose schoolmaster lost patience while instructing him. He was a poor-performing student and his teacher called him “addled.” Then his mother decided to stop sending him to school and his official school year ended only within 12 weeks.

If TJHSST had used its traditional standard values to determine his admission, they would have lost this student: Thomas A. Edison, an inventor of the electric light bulb.