FairTest Press Release: National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Scores Vary Greatly State-By State
for further information:
Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773
cell (239) 699-0468
for immediate release, Monday, September 9, 2013
NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP QUALIFYING SCORES
VARY GREATLY STATE BY STATE;
BIASED, TEST-BASED SELECTION SYSTEM SKEWS PRESTIGIOUS AWARDS
TO FAMILIES THAT LEAST NEED COLLEGE TUITION AID
The list of high school seniors eligible for National Merit Scholarships, scheduled for release on Wednesday, September 11, will be heavily skewed toward families that least need financial aid by a test-based selection system, according to data made public today. The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) posted National Merit’s previously secret cut-off scores, which vary greatly from state to state.
“National Merit says it uses different state qualifying scores to assure geographic fairness but has made no effort to address other major biases in its selection process,” explained FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. “The competition improperly relies on Preliminary SAT scores, which strongly correlate with income and race, as the sole factor to determine initial scholarship eligibility.”
Due to National Merit’s geographic balancing policy, minimum test score requirements for scholarship eligibility differ widely across the country. For the class of 2014, scholarship eligibility minimums range from 224 in Massachusetts and New Jersey to 203 in West Virginia and Wyoming on the qualifying exam’s 60 to 240-point scale.
“The improper minimum test score requirement eliminates nearly 99% of scholarship seekers, no matter how strong their other credentials.” Schaeffer continued. “National Merit’s arbitrary rules guarantee that the bulk of awards go to children who least need college scholarship aid.”
Backed by many education, civil rights, and women’s organizations, FairTest has led a national campaign to overhaul the competition’s eligibility rules. A FairTest gender bias complaint forced revisions in the scholarship-qualifying exam that somewhat increased the percentage of female winners. National Merit has not addressed other concerns.
“The lion’s share of test-based awards still goes to white and Asian American males,” Schaeffer concluded. “Low-income, African American and Latino students are greatly disadvantaged by National Merit’s biased selection system. That is especially true since their parents generally cannot afford high-priced test-prep courses to boost PSAT scores.”
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The state-by-state list of National Merit Scholarship qualifying scores for students graduating in the high school class of 2014 is below. Also for a print formatted PDF of this release and chart click here.
|Dist. of Columbia||224||Oklahoma||210|
|Nebraska||209||(depending on region)|
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