Rewarding scores

Given how often Mahar Regional School District has found itself at the center of the financial maelstrom recently, it sometimes seems like the district’s reason for being — to provide a good, solid public education to young people — might get lost.

But the community was just given a reminder of the fact that the mission has not been ignored with the announcement regarding the MCAS scores for this senior class.

Make that not just a reminder but a terrific one at that.

All Mahar seniors, 63 of them, did well enough on their 10th-grade tests to qualify for the John and Abigail Adams scholarships, which — should they attend one of the states’s public colleges or universities — would provide them with free tuition.

This is noteworthy for Mahar because the number sets the high school’s record for qualifying. That 41 of the students scored advanced in both English and math is also worth recognizing.

Unfortunately, while this is extremely good news for the students, their families, school and community, there’s also a sobering side to the story.

Under the state’s guidelines only the top 25 percent of the qualifying students in each class get the scholarship. That means in Mahar’s case, 37 of this year’s seniors made the grade but won’t be getting the scholarship, including 15 who scored advanced in MCAS English and Math.

That doesn’t seem quite right.

Sure, this may be a bit of reality about life coming to bear, one where there are limits to the amount of money available for these scholarships. But the truly unfair part has more to do with what happens to the John and Abigail Adams scholarship should a winner decide to go to a private college or an out-of-state school.

The scholarship money goes back to the state.

“It’s too bad that the award can’t go to the next kid in line,” said Mahar Superintendent Michael Baldassarre, who points out that many of the students who do well but didn’t make the cut are ones who are headed to the state schools and could use the tuition break.

We agree.

Instead of defining the scholarship as a reward for the top 25 percent of the class, let those who qualify be eligible to get a scholarship should someone ahead in class ranking decide against going to a state school.

We urge our local legislators, known for their support of higher education, to propose such a change.

Any alteration in the rules would come too late for Mahar’s Class of 2013. But its members can take some solace in knowing their situation hmay have elped create better opportunities for future students.

Meanwhile, we want to join in recognizing this accomplishment by 63 Mahar seniors.

Good job.

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