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Editorial: high schools, doing away with class rank

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It’s no secret that just about everything in today’s society is changing and some of the most drastic changes have been within school systems around the country. Furthermore, at what price are we willing to lose established positions without fully considering the effect these changes could have on student achievement as a whole.

When a child begins school at a very young age, they dream of the day they’ll become high schoolers and experience the freedoms and leisure’s of a young adult. But perhaps the one thing a student looks forward to most is graduation.

Graduation for many centuries has stood as a symbol of highest achievement and freedom, and is often regarded as a students “I made it” moment. It serves as a celebration of a student’s past and what they will do in the future whether it be college or another path in life.

School systems, however, have begun changing traditional graduation standards and evaluation structures for students. In recent years high schools across our nation have been removing class rank and naming of valedictorian and salutatorian. According to U.SNews.com about half of high schools do not report class rank anymore.

The class ranking system of valedictorian and salutatorian is a long honored tradition that should continue.

I can be said that class rank serves as a healthy competition between students encouraging them to be the best they possibly can. It gives them a goal to focus on while working towards achieving academic excellence.

Achievement of class valedictorian and salutatorian provides recognition of a student’s hard work and excellence in academics among all of the students in the class.

The graduation speeches delivered by the valedictorian and salutatorian provide a platform to not only honor and recognize achievements but also to motivate all students that “anything is possible” through hard work and dedication.

Graduation is just a stepping stone to the next chosen path in life. The class valedictorian and salutatorian serve as role models to all students for their future successes in life.

The Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) recently voted to end the class rank system and the naming of valedictorian and salutatorian.

The current class rank system will be replaced by the Latin Honors system designations of Honor graduate, Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude, according to the VBCPS website.

If adopted in 2022 within VBCPS, the Latin Honors system will group and recognize all students with a GPA of 3.0 and above.

The move towards the Latin Honors system is designed to recognize more students for academic excellence and achievement. It is an established and understandable system within academia.

Yes, this will provide more opportunity for recognition of academic success to a wider class population which would now include otherwise average students. According to TheWashingtonPost.com , by doing away with class rank it has made college admission officers have to look at applications in more detail.

Although this may help  many students chances of getting into college with better extracurricular activities then grades, the dean of undergraduate admissions at Tufts University, Lee Coffin, has revealed without class rank, admission officers have a hard time judging students academic ability compared to other students within their school.

Coffin also added that by not revealing class rank admission officer often must turn to standardized test scores for decisions, which can often be unrepresentative of a students abilities.

By adopting the Latin Honors system in place of the traditional class  rank system, we fail to recognize academic achievement of those students who consistently strive to achieve excellence.

According to Texas A&M’s director of admissions, Scott Mcdonald, class rank is not insignificant, and when a student applies without reporting rank, colleges will use an algorithm to assign them a rank anyways.

By “ leveling out the playing field” so to speak, high schools may actually achieve the opposite end result with students who consistently achieve academic excellence becoming discouraged and disheartened. Ultimately they may just choose to become the otherwise average student with minimal drive and ambition.

The increasing amount of high schools doing away with class rank needs to be stopped. Talk to your local school board and law makers before this change is permanent and it’s too late.

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About the Writer
Sydney Doyon, Managing Editor
Junior Journalism II student  
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Editorial: high schools, doing away with class rank