38 Madison high school students named semifinalists for National Merit Scholarship

Logan Wroge: Thirty-eight Madison high school seniors have been named semifinalists for the 2020 National Merit Scholarships. The students join about 16,000 other high school seniors across the country that were named Wednesday as semifinalists for the prestigious scholarship. About 90% of semifinalists are named finalists, and around half of the finalists go on to … Continue reading 38 Madison high school students named semifinalists for National Merit Scholarship

Semifinalists for 2017 National Merit Scholarship awards announced

Logan Wroge: Ninety-five Madison area students have been named semifinalists for the 2017 National Merit Scholarships. They are among approximately 16,000 high school seniors across the country who have qualified as semifinalists. Of these students, about 7,500 will eventually be offered the prestigious scholarship in spring 2017. Entering its 62nd year, the National Merit Scholarship … Continue reading Semifinalists for 2017 National Merit Scholarship awards announced

NYU Exiting National Merit Scholarship Citing Test Process

Janet Lorin:

New York University pulled out of the National Merit scholarships, becoming at least the ninth school to stop funding one of the largest U.S. merit-based aid programs, because it doesn’t want to reward students based on a standardized test.
The National Merit Scholarship Corp. distributed more than $50 million to students in the 2009-2010 year based on the PSAT college entry practice exam. Most of the money comes from almost 200 colleges, including Northwestern University and University of Chicago, to fund awards of as much as $8,000 over four years. Companies such as Boeing Co. and Pfizer Inc. also sponsor the program, primarily to benefit their employees’ children.
NYU’s withdrawal is another blow to National Merit, already ignored by many elite colleges and a subject of a critical report by a Harvard College-chaired commission. Schools are debating how to allocate scarce financial-aid dollars as tuition costs rise and the economy remains sluggish. While high schools trumpet National Merit winners, relying heavily on a standardized test is a flawed way to evaluate students, said Shawn Abbott, assistant vice president of admissions at NYU.
National Merit hasn’t collected any fees from the PSAT for the past 14 years, though it is entitled to a “nominal percent” of revenue under their contract, Kauffmann said. Instead, it has reinvested the funds into the program to keep test fees low and expand access to fee waivers, he said.
The College Board gains a marketing benefit from its association with National Merit when school districts or states consider using public funds to pay for the PSAT in 11th grade or ACT Inc.’s 10th-grade test known as PLAN, according to Bob Schaeffer, a spokesman for FairTest, a nonprofit group in Boston that works to end the misuses of standardized testing. Almost 1.3 million 10th-graders nationally took the PLAN test in the 2010-2011 academic year, according to the nonprofit ACT.

Related: 2011 National Merit Cut Scores

Illinois 214
Minnesota 213
Iowa 209
Massachusetts 223
Michigan 209
Texas 215
Wisconsin 209

26 National Merit Semifinalists from Madison West High School

Susan Troller:

It’s not supposed to be a competition among schools or states, or anything beyond the recognition of individual academic excellence. But the numbers of students from West High School ranking as semifinalists in the annual National Merit Scholarship Program are always impressive, and this year is no exception.
Twenty-six West students are on the list, announced Wednesday. Other Madison students who will be now eligible to continue in the quest for some 8,300 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $34 million, include 10 students from Memorial, six from Edgewood, five from East, one from St. Ambrose Academy and one home-schooled student. Winning National Merit scholars will be announced in the spring of 2012.
Other area semifinalists include 20 additional students from around Dane County, including seven students from Middleton High School, four from Stoughton High School, three from Mount Horeb High School and one student each from Belleville High School, DeForest High School, Monona Grove High School, Sun Prairie High School, Waunakee High School and a Verona student who is home-schooled.

Much more on national merit scholars, here.
A Deeper Look at Madison’s National Merit Scholar Results.
Madison School Board member Ed Hughes’ recent blog post:

We brag about how well Wisconsin students do on the ACT, and this is certainly good. But about 30 states have higher cut scores than Wisconsin when it comes to identifying National Merit Scholars, which means that their top 1% of students taking the test score higher than our top 1% do. (We in the MMSD are justly proud of our inordinate number of National Merit semi-finalists, but if – heaven forbid – MMSD were to be plopped down in the middle of Illinois, our number of semi-finalists would go down, perhaps significantly so. Illinois students need a higher score on the PSAT to be designated a National Merit semi-finalist than Wisconsin students do.)

Qualifying Scores for the Class of 2011 National Merit Semifinalists:

Illinois 214
Minnesota 213
Iowa 209
Massachusetts 223
Michigan 209
Texas 215
Wisconsin 209

Madison schools produce more National Merit semifinalists than any other district in state

Wisconsin State Journal:

Madison public schools produced more National Merit Scholarship semifinalists than any other school district in the state again this year.
Thirty-nine students from Madison East, West, La Follette and Memorial high schools, along with 10 other Madison seniors who receive home schooling or attend Edgewood High or Abundant Life Christian School, are among 16,000 students nationwide to receive the honor. The semifinalists, who represent fewer than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, will continue to compete for some 8,400 National Merit scholarships worth more than $36 million to be announced next spring.

View individual state cut scores, by year here. In 2010, Minnesota’s cut score was 215, Illinois’ 214, Iowa 209 and Michigan 209. Wisconsin’s was 207.
Congratulations all around!

States Weigh Cuts to Merit Scholarships

Robert Tomsho:

As they grapple with crippling budget shortfalls, states are weighing whether to cut back on merit-aid scholarship programs that benefit hundreds of thousands of college students every year.
Since the early 1990s, more than 15 states have launched broad-based programs that offer students scholarships and tuition breaks based solely on grades, class rank and test scores. Supporters say such programs boost college-enrollment rates and help persuade high achievers to remain in their home states. Critics maintain that the programs siphon aid money away from students with financial need in favor of some who probably could have afforded college without the help.
The National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs, an organization of agencies responsible for state financial-aid programs, says merit grants accounted for $2.08 billion, or 28%, of all state-sponsored grants awarded in its latest tally, covering the 2006-2007 academic year. That’s up from $458.9 million in 1996-1997, when merit-aid accounted for about 15% of all state grants.
But the economic crisis has raised fears that such growth may be unsustainable, as tax revenue plunges and legislatures make drastic cuts to other state programs. And the pinch comes just as layoffs and investment losses affecting millions of families are likely to boost demand for financial aid based on need.

Standards, Accountability, and School Reform

This is very long, and the link may require a password so I’ve posted the entire article on the continued page. TJM http://www.tcrecord.org/PrintContent.asp?ContentID=11566 Standards, Accountability, and School Reform by Linda Darling-Hammond — 2004 The standards-based reform movement has led to increased emphasis on tests, coupled with rewards and sanctions, as the basis for “accountability” systems. … Continue reading Standards, Accountability, and School Reform