Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax, Virginia Fails to Designate “Honors” Courses on Official School Transcripts

Incidents


It has recently been confirmed that administrators at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology (TJ) in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) , are not denoting Honors classes on the official school transcripts of their nearly 2,000 students, and have been failing to accurately list Honors classes on student transcripts for many years. A TJ administrator told a parent that the reasons for not noting “Honors” on the official transcript was “nuanced” and that the administration “has received several requests over the years to list Honors on the transcript” but has not altered their practices. This purposeful omission is of particular concern for seniors who submit transcripts —their official academic record —when applying to college. When asked why the designation was not included on the official transcript, the TJ administrator said he “had no answer.”

Parents Defending Education has received transcripts from parents at multiple FCPS schools. All properly include Honors, HN or H on the transcripts. This is standard practice at both public and private high schools across the nation. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology is outside of accepted practices in withholding Honors designation from students on their official academic record. Student transcripts appear to list all Honors classes without any Honors designation, thus hiding how challenging the student’s course load was. The school appears to have no answer for their actions of denying students the course designations they deserve.

In contrast to TJ administrators hiding student achievement, this is a sample transcript from another Fairfax County Public High School, clearly and transparently designating Honors:

A review of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology Course Catalogue confirms that the vast majority of classes available at TJ are Honors classes. Below is from the Course Catalogue for the Mathematics classes available for TJ students. All classes noted with an additional “weighted +0.50” are Honors. None of these classes are listed as Honors on the student’s transcript. All classes noted with an additional +1.0 are Advanced Placement classes. General Ed level classes, the standard academic level at most high schools, are not typically offered at TJ which is a school for gifted students.

Below is an example of core and required Science courses at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology from a January 2023 Curriculum Night presentation. With the exception of ninth grade Design & Tech, all are Honors classes. These classes are not noted as Honors on the transcript.

The only mention of Honors on the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology 2022-2023 School Profile, a document that accompanies all college applications, is under the section “FCPS Grading Scale.” It states: “Honors courses are weighted with an additional 0.50 quality points.” By failing to include Honors, HN or H on the transcript, students and universities are being provided inaccurate transcripts, which harms students much like the failure to notify students of their National Merit Commended status.

As many colleges report that an uptick in applications due in part to the Common Application and the shift to test optional status, rigor (strength of academic course load) has become an increasingly important factor when reviewing and comparing applications.