Schools are getting rid of their “valedictorian” titles over concerns that they create harmful competition, influence course selection and propagate misconceptions of large disparities in GPA because of differences in class rank.
Nearly half of American high schools do not display class rank, according to the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and many schools give out awards to students who obtain a certain grade-point average or higher instead of only the highest-scoring student, reported the Associated Press.
The NASSP stresses that schools should encourage cooperation instead of competition with regard to academic excellence. Connor Carrow of Lancaster High School in New York wants his school to switch from honoring the top 10 students to the cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude system of honors typically adopted by colleges. He advocated this switch well before placing 14th in his own graduating class.
“More and more schools are moving toward a more holistic process. They look deeper into the transcript,” said Melanie Gottlieb, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers’ deputy director. Gottlieb explained that, while many applications ask students to provide a class ranking if they have one, course difficulty and grades outweigh this factor.
“We are encouraged by any movement that helps students understand that they’re more than a score, that they’re more than a rank,” said Dana Monogue, assistant superintendent for Elmbrook School District in Wisconsin. Her schools rank the valedictorian and salutatorian, but merely because Wisconsin gives out scholarships to each school’s two highest-performing graduates.
Meanwhile, schools in Howard County, Md. distinguish the top 5 percent of their graduates to boost those students’ applications.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to The College Board and Fairfax County Public Schools for comment on the trend away from ranking students, but did not receive comment in time for press.
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