Valedictorians’ days are numbered? Schools rethink class ranking

LANCASTER, new york – On a lot of American high school, the graduation day, the tradition of the crowning of a valedictorian is becoming a thing of the past.

The ranking of students from the Number 1 down, based on the grade-point averages, is the fading steadily for about the past ten years. Instead, it honors that recognize everyone who scores at a certain threshold — the use of Latin honors, for example. This year at a school in Tennessee had 48 valedictorians.

About half of the schools are no longer class rank, according to the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Administrators have to worry about the college prospects of the students separated from each other by large differences in class rank despite minor differences in their Gpa, and view the rankings as outdated in an era of high expectations for every student, association spokesman Bob Farrace said. There are also concerns about the intense, potentially unhealthy competition and students are concerned about the grade of their course selections.

Among those with a weight a change is Lancaster high School in a suburb of Buffalo, where the students are leading an exploration of the replacement of valedictorian-salutatorian recognitions with the college style Latin honor of summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude.

The principal Cesar Marchioli, said he is neutral on the issue, but he feels for the 11th ranked student who falls just short of the recognition awarded to the top 10 seniors honored at the annual banquet.

Graduated Lancaster senior Connor Carrow, 17, is pressed to switch to Latin honors since his second year, for the landing just outside the top 10, at Number 14, while serving as student union president and the playing of varsity lacrosse and ice hockey. He said that it is a better fit with the school as a collaborative and cooperative ideals.

“You’re bet for the (ren) personally, but you’re not in the hope that you’re better than those other 400 people next to you,” Carrow said.

The view was slightly different from the Number 1 spot occupied by Carrow ‘ s classmate Daniel Buscaglia, who also played saxophone in a number of performance ensembles and as a volunteer in his town’s youth bureau. While he did not oppose the change, Buscaglia expects the competition at the high school, but it was usually friendly, will help him to Cornell University in the fall.

Elsewhere, commenters have filled news web sites with a disparaging comparisons with “participation trophies” to avoid hurt feelings, while proponents point to the often statistically significant differences that separate students.

Rankings still play an important role in the aspects of the college admissions process. There are scholarships for the top-ranked students and the number of students to colleges is factored into college rankings. Class ranks are also credited with improving the diversity of the University of Texas, where a law is guaranteed that a school in the top 10 percent would be accepted in a public university.

Colleges are adapting to the increasing number of applications arriving without class, rank, although many applications still ask (if available). Even so, students of the individual grades and the rigor of the curriculum they chose tend to weigh more heavily, said Melanie Gottlieb, deputy director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and admissions Officers.

“More and more schools are moving in the direction of a more holistic process. They delve deeper into the transcript,” said Gottlieb.

Wisconsin Elmbrook School District has a number of years, ranked only the valedictorian and salutatorian, and only because the state awards grants to schools’ top two graduates, according to Assistant Superintendent Dana Monogue. The change is accepted by the colleges and the community alike, Monogue said.

“We are encouraged by a movement that helps students to understand that they are more than a score, they more than a grade,” she said.

Tennessee’s Rutherford County schools give the valedictorian title to each and every student that meets the demands that come with a 4.0-grade-point average and at least 12 honors courses. The highest ranked Central Magnet School had 48 valedictorians this year, about a quarter of the graduating class.

The day rankings came out on to Hammond High School in Columbia, Maryland, students were privately told their number — but things didn’t remain private for long.

“That was the only thing everyone was talking about,” said Mikey Peterson, 18, who took off his lower third end and at West Virginia University in the fall.

A spokesman for the Howard County, Maryland, the district said schools recognize their top 5 percent, so that students can add to the college applications and has not been considered to change.

“There was a great emphasis on where you landed,” says Peterson classmate Vicki Howard, 18. “It has everything 10 times more competitive.”

Peterson’s mother, Elizabeth Goshorn, said that she can not walk in school without hearing of the good things about her affable son, but is worried about how the rankings may have an impact on the teen trust.

“It has such an impact on them as to how they see themselves if you are rankings on them,” she said.

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