Dear Extra Credit:

I'm not sure your comparison of low-income students and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology acceptance data in the Sept. 29 Extra Credit is relevant ["In Jefferson's New Class, Incomes Seem to Count"]. Instead, you need to consider the base middle schools of the kids who applied to and were accepted to attend TJ. For example, my kids were attending Twain's GT program when they applied for admittance to TJ, but their base middle school was Hayfield.

I agree with Mr. Carlson's hypothesis that all GT centers are not created equal. Some middle schools, such as Longfellow, appear to embrace having a GT center in their midst, while to other principals housing a GT center, the responsibility and parental involvement seem to be resented. This resentment seems to be reflected in various GT centers' acceptance rates to TJ.

Karen Osborn

Alexandria area

Dear Extra Credit:

The Sept. 29 column has some serious errors and omissions. In short, it is the epitome of bad analysis and uses fallacious logic.

Many highly qualified people simply choose to not go to TJ. My son chose MIT over a governor's scholarship to the University of Virginia. He and many of his friends who went to fine universities chose to stay in their regular high school. Who is to say that others don't choose to skip TJ to stay with friends or for other reasons, no matter what their levels of income?

Does income matter? Only in the fact that people who have large incomes appreciate education and ensure their children get it. And those with higher incomes are generally smarter or else they would not have such incomes. Smarter parents tend to raise smarter and harder working children. Of course, there are certainly poorer families who appreciate education and sacrifice so that their children can get a good one. But they may choose to skip TJ for family or personal reasons.

Bill Adams

Annandale

Dear Extra Credit:

It might be helpful to note that there is a school board advisory committee, the Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee, that is specifically charged with looking at issues relating to minority student achievement and making recommendations to the School Board. The committee has looked at issues relating to TJ admissions and minority participation in GT programs (along with other issues) in recent years, and some of its recommendations have been followed by the Board.

In fact, the committee makes recommendations to the Board in its annual report card (www.fcps.edu/DEA/msa/eleven_report_card_2005.pdf#xml=). The committee has done eleven report cards so far.

Also, TJ's admissions system is now and always has been based on academic achievement. A single test is not the only way to measure academic achievement; looking at other measures along with a test score has value. TJ's current admissions system is closer than its previous system to the systems used by the most selective universities in the country.

Paul Regnier

Spokesman,

Fairfax County public schools

I appreciate your thoughts. I disagree with Bill Adams's notion that "those with higher incomes are generally smarter or else they would not have such incomes," but it is true that wealthier parents usually have the time and expertise to prepare their children for challenges like the TJ entrance test.

Please send your questions, along with your name, e-mail or postal address and telephone number to Extra Credit, The Washington Post, 4020 University Dr., Suite 220, Fairfax, Va. 22030. Or e-mail extracredit@washpost.com.