Superintendent: 3 Loudoun Co. schools didn’t inform students of National Merit recognition

Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia is working to standardized its process for notifying students of National Merit recognition, after three high schools took longer to notify National Merit “Commended Scholars.”

Acting Superintendent Daniel Smith told the school board Tuesday night that 14 of 17 county high schools did notify students, but that three needed to take additional steps to do so.

The recognition wasn’t withheld from students intentionally, Smith said.

The notification process has been scrutinized, after Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced an investigation into Fairfax County Public Schools for a delay in informing students of the honor. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology was the first to report delays to families, and two other county schools did the same soon thereafter.

Smith said the county’s Office of Student Mental Health will create an operating procedure to inform students of the award. The delays apply to National Merit “Commended” students, Smith said.

Some 50,000 kids with the highest PSAT scores across the country are recognized as “Commended Students.”

If students aren’t notified of the recognition by their schools, they can call the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to check their status, a NMSC spokesman said in an email.

In one case, at Loudoun County High School, notification was delayed because the school didn’t get its list of “Commended Students” from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Students weren’t notified at Potomac Falls High School because the school planned to recognize students during a program on Jan. 13, Smith said. Delays at Freedom High School are due to human error.

“The three identified schools, Freedom, Loudoun County and Potomac Falls, have established a communication plan to immediately inform students and parents of their commendation who were not notified in the fall,” Smith said.

“As a former high school principal in other school divisions, I can attest that this process for recognizing the commended students is a school-based process, and it can vary significantly from school to school.”

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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