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Idaho nominations open for Presidential Scholars
September 22, 2017
Idaho high school seniors interested in being nominated for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program are urged to submit applications to the State Department of Education by October 25.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by executive order of the president to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts.

In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

Seniors will be considered for automatic participation if they will graduate during the 2017-18 school year and scored exceptionally well on either the SAT or the ACT college admission test during the two-year window from September 2015 through October 2017.

The U.S. Department of Education looks at test records in each state, and the top 20 male examinees and top 20 female examinees are used to identify the automatic candidates in each state. The minimum scores for automatic consideration for females are anticipated to be: ACT 136, old SAT 1510 or new SAT 1540. For males, those anticipated minimum scores are: ACT 139, old SAT 1540 or new SAT 1560.

In addition, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra may nominate up to 10 male and 10 female Idaho candidates who have demonstrated outstanding scholarship but have not been automatically selected. Students who have not been notified by the Presidential Scholars Program of their eligibility, and who would like to be considered for a nomination by Superintendent Ybarra, should:
  * Submit an essay not to exceed 500 words describing what improvements they would make in some component of the educational system of the United States.
  * Submit a self-assessment describing their personal characteristics, leadership and service activities in their school and community, their academic achievements and any special challenges or hurdles, if any, that the student has overcome while still achieving high academic success.
  * Send a copy of their transcripts.
  * Provide a letter of recommendation from a high school counselor, principal or teacher.

Provide a separate page of contact information that includes:
    1) The student’s name;
    2) The student’s home mailing address;
    3) The name and mailing address of the student’s high school;
    4) The high school CEEB code.

Those five documents (essay, self-assessment, transcripts, recommendation and contact information) should be sent as separate attached PDFs in a single e-mail, to:

Superintendent Ybarra also can nominate up to five students based on their accomplishments in career and technical education fields. Those students should submit the same materials listed above but should note in the self-assessment they are seeking a CTE nomination.

For more information on the CTE component of the program go to the Presidential Scholars page on the SDE website at

The arts component of the Presidential Scholars program requires participation in the YoungArts program and uses a separate selection process. There are no superintendent nominations. Contact the YoungArts program at for more information.

All graduating high school seniors currently attending schools in Idaho who are citizens of the United States or are Legal Permanent U.S. Residents are eligible to apply.

In January, candidates selected by the Commission on Presidential Scholars for final consideration will be notified and sent a series of application materials. In late March, approximately 500 semifinalists will be chosen by an independent national committee of educators convened by the commission.

Six to 20 semifinalists will be identified for each state/jurisdiction by the review committee. The number of semifinalists identified per state/jurisdiction is based on a proportionate number of test-takers for that state.

In April, the Commission on Presidential Scholars will make the final selection of 121 students. One young man and one young woman are chosen from each state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and from families of U.S. citizens living abroad. In addition, up to 15 students are chosen at large.

For more information on the Presidential Scholars Program, click here.
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