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"Battle to Be Valedictorian Gives Some Administrators Pause" (NY Times)

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Replies to: "Battle to Be Valedictorian Gives Some Administrators Pause" (NY Times)

  • ConsolationConsolation 22898 replies184 threads Senior Member
    I should clarify that our school, which does not weight grades, also does not officially rank, with the exception of declaring the val/sal and the "top 10." (Grades are numeric on a scale to 100, which probably makes ties less likely.) The GCs have been known to reveal rank in their written recs at times, though--sometimes to the detriment of the applicant. It is also possible to get a rough estimate of where a kid falls by looking at the published profile. The problem is that the profile is always that of last year's class, and classes do differ.

    BTW, the supposition that top schools will take a chance on a kid without a top GPA is not borne out by the experience of kids I know in recent years. HYPSM have consistently gone for the top GPAs. They have passed over some kids with more demonstrated intellectual passion, somewhat more challenging course loads, and somewhat higher scores. They consistently take the conventionally-driven kids at our HS over those with slightly lower grades (and I mean still unweighted A averages) who may be more intellectually impassioned or "different." Independent-mindedness does not seem to be highly valued. Or maybe it's that our HS doesn't value it, and so doesn't push for those kids as much...it's hard to say.
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  • mathmommathmom 33180 replies161 threads Senior Member
    vig180, I was a Mom who drove my kid (and two others) to the high school to take classes when they were in middle school. It had nothing to do with wanting to be the valedictorian (and none of them were) and everything to do with wanting to be in the appropriate math placement. They were bored to death by middle school math.

    Consolation, I agree, HYPM (but not Stanford) have only accepted kids in the top 1 to 2% in our school. That amounts to about the top 15. Alot of our valedictorians seem to end up at Harvard or Yale.
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  • NewHope33NewHope33 6136 replies72 threads Senior Member
    I hadn't though about it, but yeah our personal experience is that only Vals from D's HSs got into HYPM. I wouldn't call the Vals dull exactly, but kids ranked two thru six were were much more interesting and preferred UPenn or top LACs. Good observation Consolation.
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  • NewHope33NewHope33 6136 replies72 threads Senior Member
    As for class ranking, where would you place a kid who has the highest GPA, unweighted and weighted, who is ineligible to be Val? (This happened to my niece, who took Algebra in 8th grade and changed school districts for HS.)
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  • kryptonsa36kryptonsa36 1721 replies14 threads Senior Member
    My school would have 10+ valedictorians if we did such a ridiculous thing. Thank goodness we don't. It's bad enough my high school overly emphasizes things like AP and grades. Had it ranked students, too, it would be that much more deserving of its relatively low number of students going to HYPSM (for a school with a very high US News/Newsweek ranking).
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  • gladmomgladmom 739 replies71 threads Member
    My S's HS makes its val decisions behind closed doors. It is a 750-student school that weights GPAs. But having the highest gpa won't get you val status. My S is "3rd" in his class, even though his gpa was highest. We know this because the principal announced the two co-vals' GPAs at the awards assembly.

    Since there were two vals, there was no sal. They were chosen because they have lots of great school-related ECs, and that is as important to our HS as the GPAs. My S was not disappointed, since he had never cared about being a val. He is happy that he got into his top choice, top 3 school.

    I don't like the secrecy about the way they make the choices, however. It ends up being as much about which of the top students are most popular with the principal as it does with academic achievement.
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  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP 16183 replies1 threads Senior Member
    My D. HS does not use "Valedictorian"/Ranking and nobody knows who is the top student before graduation day. At graduation, the top overall GPA gets award and top Senior GPA gets another award, they could be the same person. Still nobody gets "valedictorian" attached to their name even if they have perfect GPA. Colleges still know who is the top based on school profile and student GPA, however, they cannot determine ranking further than top student. Relatively high % are going to Ivy's and other top schools considering graduation class is only 30-40 kids.
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  • mathmommathmom 33180 replies161 threads Senior Member
    As for class ranking, where would you place a kid who has the highest GPA, unweighted and weighted, who is ineligible to be Val? (This happened to my niece, who took Algebra in 8th grade and changed school districts for HS.)
    If I were your niece's GC I would write in my recommendation that she had the grades to be valedictorian and that the only reason she wasn't was because of whatever the technicality was that made her ineligible. I'd probably also create some special award at whatever end of the year award's ceremony her school has that recognizes her achievement.
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  • NorthEastMom2NorthEastMom2 348 replies39 threads Member
    Our school does not rank, and will start weighted GPAs next year. The top 5 % students are recognized at graduation - about 30ish students. This year, some of them definitely were not AP/Honors students.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 27992 replies204 threads Senior Member
    concur with mathmom:

    ask GC to write that niece had highest gpa in her class, but due to transfer in she is ineligible for Val/Sal.

    btw: this is also how a GC can handle top kids for schools that don't rank. For example, a GC could write something to the effect: our official district policy is that we do not rank kids, but if we did, Sally would be first in her class based on gpa....
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  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP 16183 replies1 threads Senior Member
    I asked at one of the colleges' Honors information session, how they determine the rank if the school does not rank, since Rank was identified as eligibility for Honors program. The answer was that they determine Rank by using school profile and student GPA. Schools that do not rank are making their profile available to colleges.
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  • jaybeejaybee 187 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Son just graduated from a school that does weighted ranking. Tons of gaming of the system, mostly in dropping out of fine arts after requirements are met (to take that 10th grade AP class), and taking required Health (one semester) over the summer as to avoid a second-semester class that would not be highly weighted. The editors of the yearbook and newspaper are not generally highly-ranked, as their classes over the years are not at G&T/AP level. Quite the wacky system.
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  • originaloogoriginaloog 2631 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Our hs district still ranks but there does not seem to be an intense competition to be names val or sal. If fact the year my son graduated one of his friends intentionally tried to move out of the sal slot so that she would not have to give a speech at graduation. She succeeded and just graduated from G'town.
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  • hikidshikids 1260 replies24 threads Senior Member
    D's school did not have a val. Speach given by a student selected by students and faculty from several interested and good candidates.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30390 replies59 threads Senior Member
    The only time I would see the sense of "fighting" to be valedictorian is if it means a substantial scholarship at a school that can make a big difference to the student. I am not sure how that works, since during the college app process, the high school will be assigning a class rank to kids before the senior year grades are even out. So how the heck do the colleges know who is val and sal until it is "game over"? At the schools here, there does not seem to be a pitched battle, as one of the things that dismays the counselors and teachers is the number of seniors who drop difficult second term classes once their mid year reports are out, or they are accepted early.
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  • tickytock14tickytock14 569 replies48 threads Member
    my school had 23 valedictorians out of a class of about 480. it was everybody with a 4.0. we don't weight classes at all, so it was an interesting mix of students. we named one salutatorian, who had only one B.
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