Class Rank Weighs Down True Learning by Thomas R. Guskey

The Valedictorian Matter

  • While most educators understand the negative consequences of grading on the curve, they still help select valedictorians, which promotes competition. When top students understand the rules of the game, they can find ingenious ways to improve their standing. As most schools give extra weight to advanced classes, students are discouraged from taking in dance, music, or art which seldom carry extra weight. Even an A in an unweighted class can bring an average down for some top students.
  • Parents of high performing students often get involved even to the point of legal action if they think their child’s GPA can be improved. Ironically, the term comes from the Latin and means to say farewell. This is the individual who gives the farewell speech at the graduation ceremony. (Doug: What are the chances that the kid with the top GPA is the best public speaker in the class and the best speech writer?) While colleges give various levels of honor based on GPAs, the person giving the farewell speech is usually selected by some other method. High schools might do well to copy this as there is nothing wrong with acknowledging excellence.
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