A school board in Maryland has voted to eliminate high school class rank … which will allow valedictorians and salutatorians to be chosen on factors other than academics.
The Anne Arundel board vote was close — 5 to 4 — in favor of the abolition. The Capital Gazette notes class rank “has been criticized for fostering a competitive environment in high schools,” putting “unnecessary” stress on students. This view was shared by board member Melissa Ellis who related a tale of a student who turned down an internship at Johns Hopkins just so she could take another (advanced) course in order to up her grade point average.
Board Vice President Josie Urrea, a high school senior, has even been seeking out students to testify in favor of the change — those who claim class rankings are “detrimental to their mental health.” Some students will take advanced classes just to get the weighted GPA, they say.
Others blasted the board’s decision.
“Heck, why give grades at all? Why not do away with weighted grades altogether?” asked board member Bob Leib. Leib said “competition is healthy” and students should have the right to choose their courses.
Urrea had hoped to represent students in English as a Second Language (ESOL) and special education classes, as well as those in the district’s magnet programs, with this change. Those students tend not to take honors and AP classes that enable kids to earn weighted GPAs.
“Because they choose these programs or came into Maryland not speaking the language of English, they are told their education is not valued. Because of that, they are hurt by class rank,” Urrea said.
Under the new policy, high schools will continue to honor those who qualify for Latin Honors. But students who receive summa cum laude recognition — a weighted GPA of 4.3 or higher — can apply to be considered for valedictorian and salutatorian after completing seven semesters of high school.
Then, the valedictorian and salutatorian would be selected based on character, leadership, scholarship and service — all pillars of the National Honor Society. If the policy is adopted, the application and selection process will be determined by the superintendent.
Not that those NHS “pillars” are much to brag about.
The class rank changes take effect in two years for incoming ninth graders.
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