The Washington Post

Fairfax school system offers solutions for TJ testing problems

This article has been updated.

Fairfax schools superintendent Karen Garza said Monday no student will be penalized for the widespread computer glitches that stalled the application process Saturday for those taking the entrance exam for the elite Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

TJ, as the magnet school is known, attracts many of the brightest students in Northern Virginia. On Saturday, 1,496 semi-finalists gathered at 15 testing sites for the writing portion of the admissions test.

School officials said about 500 students encountered computer problems. Some students said that portions of their essays were deleted, and that they had trouble saving and submitting their work.

School officials said all applicants will take the tests again. Garza said that the school system will schedule multiple days for students to make up the exams in case of extracurricular conflicts. School officials said the re-test will ensure that the application process is fair to all students.

The administration had planned earlier to allow parents and students to review the applicant’s essays from Saturday. But to ensure that the application process maintains integrity, they decided against allowing parents and students to access the Saturday exams material.

“We are now assessing the extent of the technical difficulties and are deeply sorry for the problem,” Jeremy Shughart, Fairfax’s director of admissions for TJ, wrote in a letter to parents on Saturday. “Again, we apologize for this inconvenience.”

This year marked the first time students were required to use a new online portal to write their essays.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.

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