Under the new PSAT/NMSQT in the fall of 2015

Leander ISD Superintendent Dan Troxell, Ph.D., announced that 23 students were distinguished as Semifinalists in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program based on their outstanding performances on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

“On behalf of Leander ISD, I congratulate these students for earning this prestigious honor,” Troxell said. “We are incredibly proud of their hard work and dedication, and we are confident that we will continue to see them achieve great heights.”

National Merit Semifinalists, who represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, include the highest scoring entrants in each state. These academically gifted high school seniors will compete for scholarships worth about $33 million next spring.

  • Cedar Park High School – Chung-Wing Ko and Bradley Krakar
  • Leander High School – Kent Hansen, Aurora Kesler and Tanner Shaw
  • Rouse High School – Tiffani Burnett and Daniel Myers
  • Vandegrift High School – Ashley Chase, Nicholas Cummings, Bethany Dollar, Spoorthi Kamepalli, Ethan McCosky, Nidhi Pandya, Yilong Peng, Dillon Piegat, Riya Saxena, Spencer Sharp, Robert Smoot, Joshua Stelling and Jonathan Walker
  • Vista Ridge High School – Abbie Flynn, Viennie Lee and Reid Li
National Merit

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

To ensure that all students are on college-ready paths, on Wednesday, Oct. 19, LISD will administer the PSAT 8/9 to all eighth- and ninth-grade students and the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) to all 10th- and 11th-grade students. Both levels of the PSAT assess reading, math and writing skills; provides practice for the SAT; and connects students to scholarships and personalized online tools. In addition, students in the 11th grade may be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship program and other award programs that look at PSAT/NMSQT scores.

Lisa Nucci, LISD director of college and career readiness, noted, “We are proud to offer the PSAT to all of our eighth through 11th graders, exposing students to this nationally-normed assessment which highlights their strengths and weaknesses before taking SATs and/or ACT as juniors. The LISD College and Career Readiness Team, in conjunction with teachers and Teaching and Learning staff, provide great support and awareness to our students regarding the PSAT testing opportunity.”

The PSAT is a powerful college-readiness tool because it uses the same format and evaluates the same skills as the SAT. After the test, students receive personalized feedback on how ready they are for college and are provided free access to Khan Academy to help them improve. On the day the PSAT is administered, students will have the option to receive free information about college admissions and financial aid information, as well as universities and scholarship programs that are interested in them.

Visit the LISD College and Career Readiness website for more information about the PSAT and access the free resources available.