National Merit Scholarship Corp. Bullies School To Remove Scores From Web; Fairtest Re-Post’s “Censored” Data To Show Biases

for further information:

Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773

cell  (239) 699-0468


for immediate release, Monday, February 8, 2010

NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP CORP. BULLIES SCHOOL COUNSELOR
TO REMOVE STATE-BY-STATE QUALIFYING TEST SCORES FROM WEB;
FAIRTEST RE-POST’S “CENSORED” DATA TO SHOW AWARD’S BIASES.


The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), which runs the country’s most prestigious tuition aid competition, is trying to block internet posting of state-by-state test score requirements for its awards. Nancy Griesemer, an independent college counselor in Northern Virginia who included the information on her website, recently received a letter from NMSC’s legal firm stating, “we strongly request you remove compilations of NMSC data.” The letter was titled “re: Unauthorized Use of National Merit Scholarship Materials.” In response, Ms. Griesemer took down the information.

“National Merit’s bullying tactics are a ham-handed attempt to hide its biased process,” said Robert Schaeffer, Public Education Director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest). ”That’s why we are posting state-by-state cut-off scores for the high school class of 2010 at www.fairtest.org.”

He continued, “NMSC uses state quotas to assure geographic fairness. As a result, minimum test score requirements for scholarship eligibility differ widely across the country.” For the class of 2010, state scholarship eligibility minimums range from 221 to 201 on the qualifying exam’s 60- 240 point scale 

“At the same time, however, NMSC has made no effort to address the huge income, racial and gender disparities in its awards,” Schaeffer charged. “The problems stem from NMSC’s misuse of minimum test scores to eliminate 98.5% of scholarship seekers, no matter how strong their other credentials. Under truth-in-advertising rules, the National Merit scholarships should properly be labeled ‘Your State’s Top Test-Takers Awards.’”

Over the past two decades, FairTest has led a national coalition of education reform, civil rights, and women’s organizations campaigning to overhaul NMSC’s eligibility rules. A FairTest-initiated gender bias complaint against the College Board and Educational Testing Service forced revisions in the scholarship-qualifying exam, which the companies cosponsor with NMSC. No changes, however, have been made to address other concerns about bias in the competition. “Upper-income white and Asians males still appear to receive the lion’s share of the awards,” Schaeffer said.

More recently the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) joined critics of NMSC’s process.  But NACAC’s calls for reform were also rebuffed by NMSC. In the past several years, the University of California and University of Texas at Austin stopped sponsoring National Merit Scholarships.

 

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A state-by-state list of National Merit Scholarship qualifying scores for students graduating in the high school class of 2010 is online at www.fairtest.org

 

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