Boad Rejects Propsed TJ Test Prep
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Votes

Boad Rejects Propsed TJ Test Prep

In an effort to level the playing field in the competition for admission to the Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology, the School Board is reviewing ways to offer test preparatory classes to all interested middle-school students.

The board, however, has run into the same problem it experienced when it debated increasing enrollment at the magnet school, how to ensure minorities and underrepresented schools are included without being exclusionary to others.

Students are ranked for admission with 20 percent based on their grade point average and 80 percent based on their performance on the Specialized High School Admissions Test.

During a work session last Monday, the School Board was presented with two possible options for a test-preparation course to help prepare county middle schoolers for the admissions test, with neither gaining the overwhelming support of the board.

"The board wanted a program for those kids that didn't have access to the private programs," said board chairman Stuart Gibson (Hunter Mill).

THE TWO PROPOSED test-prep courses would be offered to 225 students through Adult and Community Education (ACE), have a sliding scale for tuition, would be offered at one middle school per cluster, provide for inclusion of the Quest program, involves diagnostic pre- and post-tests, includes teacher training and curriculum development and have a ACE service fee.

They vary in classroom time, tuition, transportation availability and days offered. Both programs would be on a first-come, first-serve registration basis.

One proposal has the classes offered twice a week for an hour after school for eight weeks and includes some Saturdays for a total of 20 classroom hours. The tuition would be $196 and transportation, in the form of late buses, would be offered.

The other proposal offers the classes on nine Saturdays, includes 36 classroom hours and does not include transportation. Tuition would cost $297.

Many on the board said the Saturday-only program would exclude the very students they were trying to reach because transportation could be an issue for those families. And using the late buses as transportation for the after-school program would exclude children that don't attend the middle school where the program is being offered.

Another issue for the board was the registration process and the limited number of slots for the program.

"This is clearly not big enough and what we are going to see is Type A parents that are already plugged into TJ will be getting there first and the ones we were desirous of helping will get closed out," said Christian Braunlich (Lee).

WHILE THE ORIGINAL intent of the test-prep proposal was to help minorities and underrepresented schools gain admission to Jefferson, the proposals on the table opened the courses up to everyone. Tessie Wilson (Braddock) questioned what the board was aiming to accomplish with the test-prep courses.

"We as a board have to decide what we are trying to do. Maybe we need to say middle schools with GT [gifted and talented] Centers aren't eligible," Wilson said.

Matthew Wansley, the student representative on the board and a Jefferson student, said the courses should be offered to anyone who wants to take them.

The board has been wrestling with ways to increase the diversity at Jefferson for nearly a year.

The school, located near Annandale, received 2,832 applications in 2001. The applicants are whittled down to a pool of 800 with only 420 freshmen gaining admission to Jefferson.

Over the past few years, the school has had a majority of its new students coming from a small number of county middle schools and has also seen a drop in minority students.

Last year's freshman class consisted of 216 students from seven middle schools while 11 of the county's 24 middle schools had fewer than 10 students admitted to Jefferson. Herndon, Jackson and Key middle schools had no students accepted to Jefferson.

In addition, during the past three years, Jefferson has averaged 3-percent black or Hispanic students in its 420-students freshman class.

In December, the board agreed to increase enrollment by as much as 30 students, with those students coming from school-attendance areas with fewer than 10 students admitted to Jefferson, and consideration given to those receiving free or reduced-priced meals.

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<TD VALIGN="TOP" COLSPAN=3 HEIGHT=20> <font size="1">The Fairfax County School

Board was presented two options for offering test preparation courses to

prepare students to take the Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology

admissions test.</font></TD>

</TR>

<TR>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=20>  </TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=20> <font size="1">After School/Saturday

Option</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=20> <font size="1">Saturday-Only Option</font></TD>

</TR>

<TR>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP"> <font size="1">Classroom hours</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP"> <font size="1">20</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP"> <font size="1">36</font></TD>

</TR>

<TR>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP"> <font size="1">Students served</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP"> <font size="1">225</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP"> <font size="1">225</font></TD>

</TR>

<TR>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">Time</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">Eight weeks, twice

week after school for one hour, plus two Saturdays for tests or five Saturdays,

9 a.m.-1 p.m</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">Nine Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1

p.m.</font></TD>

</TR>

<TR>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">Dates</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">Sept. 28-Nov. 16 after

school, Oct. 19-Nov. 16 Saturdays</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">Sept. 21-Nov. 16, Saturdays</font></TD>

</TR>

<TR>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">Staffing</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">Two certified teachers

at 32 hours</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">Two certified teachers

at 49 hours</font></TD>

</TR>

<TR>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">Snack</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">Test Saturdays only</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">Every Saturday</font></TD>

</TR>

<TR>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">Tuition</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">$196, $9.80/hr Covers

costs except sliding scale</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=10> <font size="1">$297, $8.28/hr Covers

all costs</font></TD>

</TR>

<TR>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=5> <font size="1">Other</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=5> <font size="1">Uses late bus days</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=5> <font size="1">Adds additional essay/instruction

requires no transportation</font></TD>

</TR>

<TR>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=5> <font size="1">Total Expenditures</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=5> <font size="1">$31,429</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=5> <font size="1">$49,985</font></TD>

</TR>

<TR>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=5> <font size="1">Total Tuition</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=5> <font size="1">$27,489</font></TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=5> <font size="1">$50,045</font></TD>

</TR>

<TR>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=5> FCPS Net Cost</TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=5> ($3,940)</TD>

<TD WIDTH="33%" VALIGN="TOP" HEIGHT=5> $60</TD>

</TR>

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