Want to be a National Merit finalist? Try Wyoming
FairTest, a nonprofit that opposes high-stakes testing, has tried for years to get the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to change the way it selects finalists. The group has alleged that there's bias in the competition, winning a handful of changes but not nearly as many as it has sought.
Now it has published a leaked document that shows that a student in Florida, for example, faces a different eligibility score (211) than one in other states. Teens in neighboring Alabama could score three points lower (208) while those in Georgia needed a score three points higher than in Florida (214). Students in Wyoming need the lowest score to get the award (201).
The highest score? 221 for kids in Maryland, Massachusetts, D.C. and New Jersey.
National Merit pressured a teacher in Virginia to remove the cut score document from her Web site. But Fair Test reposted it, saying the public should know how the system works.
“NMSC uses state quotas to assure geographic fairness. As a result, minimum test score requirements for scholarship eligibility differ widely across the country,” Bob Schaeffer, FairTest's public education director, said in a news release.