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Best way to determine a valedictorian?

coolweathercoolweather Registered User Posts: 5,395 Senior Member
edited May 2007 in Parent Cafe
Many students manipulate the system to receive the val title although they are not more brighter than their classmates. What do you think the school should do to determine the true val?
Post edited by coolweather on

Replies to: Best way to determine a valedictorian?

  • WashDadWashDad Registered User Posts: 2,695 Senior Member
    I think they should use a holistic process. With essays.
  • twaldtwald Registered User Posts: 28 New Member
    i think he means taking the easiest classes possible and getting a 4.0 vs taking 27 APs and having a 3.99

    though i assume they use weighted grades, right?
  • citygirlsmomcitygirlsmom - Posts: 13,158 Senior Member
    not have one....seriiously....the systems are so varied and bizarre in some cases, what is the point, and don't give me colleges, that is just a lazy way to look at applicants
  • violetmist2003violetmist2003 Registered User Posts: 155 Junior Member
    My school doesn't rank, and I think it makes everyone happier. Can't help you there. *shrug*
  • frazzled1frazzled1 Registered User Posts: 5,566 Senior Member
    After several years of reading bizarro valedictorian threads and trying to wrap my brain around the odd ways vals are chosen across this great land, I’ve got to agree with cgm: we might as well bag the whole thing. If we’re not gonna do that, I think our hs handles the whole mess as equitably as possible:

    1. Whatever it looks like, we don’t call it a valedictorian. It may be the graduating senior with the highest GPA who gives a speech at graduation, but it’s not a valedictorian, it’s a “Senior Scholar.” It’s surprising how this little word substitution defuses the whole situation, even in our competitive hs.

    2. Our hs doesn’t rank; only the kid with the highest GPA is identified, so no one ever knows for certain who’s in contention or how close the contenders may be. The student is announced three weeks before graduation. Doesn’t figure into the college application process one bit.

    3. The GPA is figured on an unweighted basis. There are folks whose eyes glaze over at this, but I think it’s the key to making the whole thing as “fair” as it gets, and as sane. Yes, in theory it would be possible to take the barest minimum number of credits at the least demanding level, amass a huge GPA, and get to give the graduation speech. But that won’t get you into Williams, Princeton, Vanderbilt, or Yale, where our most recent vals have gone. The Senior Scholar always takes as demanding a schedule as possible – they just do.

    4. Once kids can’t rig their GPAs with scheduling tricks – if they can’t try to get out of gym or figure out when the competition will have to take their toughest course and take it later themselves to try to gain a fraction of a point – or whatever other acrobatics are out there – kids can decide what courses they want to take because they’re interested in them, or because they’ll need them for their future majors, or because they want to look good to MIT, which are better reasons than wanting to gain two-hundredths of a point on Susie Jones.

    The only way to get to be our “val” is to work your tail off for four years and concentrate on your own performance, not your neighbor’s. So I like the way we do it! Though I’d also be willing to see it dispensed with, since two-hundredths of a point is a slim nail to hang anything on. And one of my kids was the Senior Scholar (or, as her puzzled grandfather asked, “You mean the valedictorian?”). :)
  • tokenadulttokenadult Registered User Posts: 17,472
    Put everyone in the country in the same high school. Then we'll know who is really the top high school student.
  • ChedvaChedva Super Moderator Posts: 28,485 Super Moderator
    Several high schools around here have eliminated it. The speech at one is given by the senior class president; at another, by the president of the student council (even if the president isn't a senior).
  • ADadADad Registered User Posts: 4,920 Senior Member
    No exact ranking; no valedictorian; no manipulation; no effort and involvement by students, parents, teachers and administrators in the drama over a title which represents miniscule differences in gpa that are neither indicative of meaningful superiority in high school nor predictors of future success in life.
  • RachachaRachacha Registered User Posts: 1,266 Senior Member
    Our HS has the usual Val, Sal, Class President (usually popularity contest) and Student Council President (ditto) honors at graduation. But a few years ago the founders of a small company originally based in our town started a 10K per year scholarship, which usually goes to the most well-rounded member of the senior class (great but not best grades, great EC's, usually athletics, great community service). It would be fitting if they can have that person give a speech....that person to me is the true Val....and is usually the most successful in college and beyond...

    About the weighting issue - I was Sal instead of Val and a good friend lost a scholarship because my HS did not weight GPA's in the day. At my D's HS, they do weigh GPA's, but there is definitely grade deflation, particularly in AP classes (hey, it's a college course, grade like you were doing the work at one), so we still have students who avoid the most challenging courses in order to get the higher rank. There is one student in my D's class who is notorious for dropping an honors course once the grade heat goes up, only to get a 100 in the regular class. The cycle begins the next year when she they let her back in to honors/AP again...
  • coptercopter Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
    When college admissions officers look at her transcript, they'll see that her course of study in high school was somewhat weak.
  • pjp1116pjp1116 Registered User Posts: 260 Junior Member
    Mud wrestling
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 29,597 Senior Member
    My high school didn't rank. I can't remember whether the president of the class did it or whether we voted for her to do it. She gave a nice little speech anyway.

    I like the idea of recognizing scholarship, but maybe they ought to do it more like colleges - and give the top kids summa cum laudes. I'd like a system that recognizes the difficulty level of the coursework as well as the grades and that doesn't penalize kids for taking courses like band or art. I'm sure any system can be manipulated to some extent though.
  • coolweathercoolweather Registered User Posts: 5,395 Senior Member
    Will this work?
    1. Use unweighted GPA
    2. Require minimum number of Honors/AP classes
    3. Do not count some easy classes (but they contribute to total GPA)
    4. Use awards to add extra points. Awards weigh in order: national, regional, local
    5. Ask teachers to vote for one among the finalists (for extra points only)
    6. Ask classmates to vote for one among the finalists (for extra points only). Val should be loved and respected by classmates.
  • curmudgeoncurmudgeon Registered User Posts: 12,128 Senior Member
    Oh, yeah. That always makes things more fair . Adding a subjective vote by teachers and students. Woo-hoo! Count me in. ;)

    Sorry. I just don't see the problem some of y'all see. And in Texas, there will always be a val as it is required legislatively for the Valedictorian's Tuition waiver (and it has to be THE student with the highest GPA).

    Come up with the fairest system you can to define the top GPA, tell 'em the rules upfront, don't change it midstream and then let them fight it out. It doesn't say "best student" or "smartest student" folks. It's for the highest GPA given these rules. That's all. There could be other awards for those other "subjective" things, couldn't there? "Most likely to succeed"? "Star student"? Heck, we had those in 1974. It can't be that hard to do. (Now that I remember it "Star student" was for the highest SAT. Would that please some of y'all more?)

    Y'all keep adding these other qualities based on your perceptions of what it should mean. Well, it doesn't. It's just highest GPA as calculated by that school's formula. If your kid doesn't want to compete - don't compete. If you don't like competition in academics , well......good luck with that whole "college and grad/professional school admissions" thing. ;)
  • soozievtsoozievt Registered User, ! Posts: 31,288 Senior Member
    Curm, I have to agree that val just means highest GPA, not "best" anything else.

    But one thing that is different here than in your descriptions...nobody "fights" it out; there is no race, and nobody talks about competing with this one or that one. It just is. It is not a topic of discussion and I don't think people go around discussing rank. I realize from many posts on CC, that is not the case elsewhere. There was no gaming or strategizing at our school. Having had a kid who was val, I can say she just is the type to want to do the best she can at school. If she wanted to fight it out or game anything, she could have taken easy courses as rank was unweighted. But she took the hardest schedule available and went beyond that. she would not be happy any other way as she craves challenge and doesn't like courses that are too easy. It so happens that those who were ranked second, third and fourth, were NOT in the harder classes. Kids knew who the good students were, insofar as who was taking the hard track classes with them (due to size of school, there is usually one high level class per subject per grade), and honor rolls were published. But nobody was keeping score on GPAs or rank. This was not a race or topic of discussion ever. It mostly came up as to who was ranked where around the time it was announced senior year. No "duking it out" here.
This discussion has been closed.