Wake County school board votes to stop naming valedictorians
High school valedictorians are on the verge of becoming a thing of the past in Wake County as school leaders cut down on what they call unhealthy competition among top-achieving students.
The Wake County school board unanimously gave initial approval Tuesday to a policy that would bar high school principals from naming valedictorians and salutatorians – titles which go to the two seniors with the highest grade-point averages – after 2018. Starting in 2019, high schools would begin using a new system that recognizes seniors with Latin titles such as cum laude if they have a weighted GPA of at least 3.75.
School board members said the change will allow students to take more of the courses they’d like rather than just the ones that will boost their GPA and class rank.
“We have heard from many, many schools that the competition has become very unhealthy,” school board Chairman Tom Benton said in an interview. “Students were not collaborating with each other the way that we would like them to. Their choice of courses was being guided by their GPA and not their future education plans.”
The new system would result in more seniors being recognized. Benton said this is a better approach, especially in schools where there could be 400 to 600 seniors, for recognizing students than just to single out one or two students in a ranking that could come down to a thousandths of a decimal point.
And in a season the team that scored the most total points for the season may may not make it into the championship.