Here’s a school trend worth copying: Scrap the high school valedictorian

Is this the end of the valedictorian? asks AP’s Carolyn Thompson. Fewer high schools are naming a valedictorian: Some have dozens of honorees on graduation day, while others have stopped using grades to rank students. Reporting class rankings is going out of fashion too.

About half of schools no longer report class rank, according to the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Administrators worry about the college prospects of students separated by large differences in class rank despite small differences in their GPAs, and view rankings as obsolete in an era of high expectations for every student, association spokesman Bob Farrace said. There are also concerns about intense, potentially unhealthy competition and students letting worries about rank drive their course selections.

Lancaster High School in suburban Buffalo may replace “valedictorian-salutatorian recognitions with the college-style Latin honors of summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude, writes Thompson.

Tennessee’s Rutherford County schools give the valedictorian title to every student who meets requirements that include a 4.0 grade-point average and at least 12 honors courses. Its highly ranked Central Magnet School had 48 valedictorians this year, about a quarter of its graduating class.

I think there’s some logic in honoring all the top-ranked graduates rather than just the number one and two. Eliminating class rankings is another step on the road to false equality. It’s paved with good intentions, of course.

Congratulations, Virginia, on your graduation day!

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Joanne Jacobs

Joanne Jacobs

Joanne was born in Chicago and named after her grandfather, Joe Jacobs, who’d been a police reporter for the Omaha Bee-News. At the age of eight, she and her best friend became the creators and co-editors-in-chief of "The Wednesday Report" for four years. After years as a San Jose Mercury News columnist, Joanne started an education blog in 2001 and wrote "Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the Charter School That Beat the Odds." She freelances for online sites, newspapers, magazines, foundations and think tanks. In addition to blogging at joannejacobs.com, Joanne writes Community College Spotlight at ccspotlight.org.

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