The positive correlation between the cutoffs and the minority population percentages does not mean for sure that the cutoff discrimination makes it harder for minorities to qualify as National Merit Scholar Semifinalists. We cannot know if lowering the cutoff from 223 to 216 in Washington . would in practice increase the minority share of National Merit Finalists. It may, instead, simply award more accolades to wealthy, white students near the top of the score distribution. The demographics of Semifinalists can radically diverge from the demographics of a state. For example, The Oregonian newspaper reported in 2013 that more than one-third of Oregon’s National Merit Scholars live in a single, wealthy ZIP code.
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