I'm not sure how I missed this story, but the Tupelo Daily Journal reported almost two weeks ago that Oxford High School has set an all-time state record by having eight students who have earned STAR Student status.
The STAR Student program, operated by the Mississippi Economic Council, recognizes the student from each high school with the highest ACT score and an average of at least a 93. However, any student with a 35 or 36 on the ACT is also recognized as a STAR Student. Oxford apparently had eight students with either a 35 or 36 on the ACT test, and thus eight STAR Students.
(Each STAR Student named a STAR Teacher, the teacher who most influenced him or her. One student named Jeffrey Jones, who teaches pre-algebra to sixth-graders at the middle school. Mr. Jones has certainly been one of the most effective teachers my children have had, and I think it's interesting that one of his former students recognized his efforts six years later.)
All eight of this year's STAR Students were among the dozen National Merit Semifinalists that I named back in September, 2012. My understanding is that based on the scores already in and past-year's cutoff scores Oxford is looking at another bumper crop of National Merit Scholars for the 2013-14 school year as well.
Having eight students score 35 or 36 on the ACT is actually a greater accomplishment than having a dozen National Merit Semi-Finalists. In Mississippi, it takes a score in roughly the 98.3rd percentile to earn Semi-Finalist status. On the ACT, the 99th percent starts with a composite score of 33. I would guesstimate that a score of 35 is in the 99.7th percentile or higher. Of course, the test-makes shouldn't force me to "guesstimate" these things, and should instead provide them in their charts.
This is all just further evidence that Oxford has become a magnet for Mississippi's super-bright. The university has grown, and so we have more professor's kids. But lots of others are moving to Oxford in search of schooling for their children as well. And these children tend to be brighter than average; sometimes a lot brighter than average.
I visited Oxford High School earlier this year with my son and left with the impression that students were encouraged to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. That's what education is supposed to be about. The school district needs to make sure this policy is implemented in all of the Oxford schools.
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