National Merit Update

By Dr. Michelle C. Reid
January 20, 2023

Hello FCPS Students, Staff, and Families,

For the past month, we have been working to understand the causes, and to consider solutions, for the delay in distribution of certificates for some of our Commended Students as designated by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Our third party review continues, but some initial themes are emerging.

First, let me clearly state this is not a war on merit, nor was it a concerted system-wide effort to deny recognition to these students. I sincerely believe the current antiquated process of how the certificates are provided to individual schools across the nation, and the absence of an FCPS system-wide approach to timely notification, contributed to the inconsistencies in the notification process and recognition of student achievements. We are confident the external review will detail areas for improvement within FCPS so that we can prevent this situation from happening again.  

I have also spoken to both the NMSC and College Board CEOs and written a letter, urging them to collaborate on a multi-layered notification communications solution. This solution must incorporate electronic notifications to each recognized student, their family, and school division central offices, which do not exist in the NMSC process today. In the meantime, we have already started to draft guidelines and protocols that will standardize our own notification processes. We anticipate this will be ready to share in April. 

FCPS pays for all eligible tenth and eleventh-grade students to participate in the PSAT exam, and as a result, we have a vested interest in educating each and every student in how they might utilize these results to their fullest outcome. We must also all recognize that most colleges and universities consider a variety of academic assessments - (including SAT, AP and IB) and individual achievements when considering a student applicant. Many colleges and universities are also currently test optional for applicants.

FCPS maintains a national reputation for excellence and consistently outperforms other school divisions. This is a reflection of the hard work of our students and the staff and parents who support them. FCPS has more than a thousand Semi-Finalists and Commended Students combined for the Class of 2023, and we congratulate each and every one of these students.

Amazing things continue to happen every day across FCPS, and achievement looks different for each and every student. To all of our students, your achievements matter and we are proud of you for your hard work and commitment to your passions. Together, great things are possible.

Warmest Regards,

Dr. Michelle Reid
Superintendent