Key Findings Regarding the National Merit Scholarship Corporation Commended Student Notifications

By Dr. Michelle C. Reid
Superintendent's Messages
March 29, 2023

Dear FCPS Students, Families, and Staff,

As promised, I am following up with you in regard to the independent third-party investigation into the notification of students designated Commended Students by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).

I shared with you this winter that FCPS initiated an independent investigation into the circumstances regarding this situation by outside legal counsel. Today, the division shared the key factual findings from that third-party investigation.

The legal team responsible for the independent investigation spent many hours conducting interviews and sifting through emails, documents, and reports. As you can see from the key findings, they concluded there was no evidence to suggest that FCPS deliberately withheld notification of Commended Student status from any student. In addition, they found no evidence of any inequity or racial bias in the actions taken by these schools regarding notifications or distribution of these certificates.

FCPS remains committed to ensuring each and every FCPS student is supported and recognized for the excellence they demonstrate. To this end, we have developed a new regulation that outlines the process all of our high schools will now follow to ensure students are notified of all National Merit Scholarship honors and awards going forward. FCPS maintains a national reputation for excellence and we want to continue to reflect and honor the hard work of our students and the staff and families who support them. Amazing things continue to happen every day across FCPS, and achievement looks different for each and every student. 

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. I am still hopeful that there can be a broader solution to this issue nationwide. In the meantime, we have put our own changes in place, which may serve as a model for other schools in Virginia and nationwide. 

I want to personally thank our staff, students, and families for your patience while this important investigation was completed. 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,

Michelle C. Reid, Ed.D.
Fairfax County Public Schools