Valedictorians and class rankings soon to be a thing of the past

Principal Hogue shares he wants to get rid of class rankings and valedictorians in the coming years.

Brianna Saucier, Reporter

Band, choir, songwriting, art, yearbook, radio — these elective courses are passions of students they can major in, or pursue as a career. In recent years, as academic rigor and competition have increased, administrators have come to realize students are discouraged from taking elective classes because they are not honors courses.

“Every elective you take that you don’t have to take brings your GPA down and hurts your chances of being valedictorian,” Principal Jamie Hogue said. “We have a system that discourages people from taking an unneeded elective.”

Photo courtesy of Walpole High School

Streetsboro is not the only school that has experienced this misjudgment of student abilities, and Hogue said he wants to change that by getting rid of the class ranking system.

Other schools such as Hudson and Aurora have already completely banned the class ranking system all together, vying for an alternative ranking method.

“It’s an old-fashioned system of ranking and calling people valedictorian,” Hogue said. ”School is a lot different now than when that was implemented. There is a growing sentiment in the world of education…other schools have done this and agree that this system is not the best way to acknowledge the best student performance and achievement.”

Other schools have slowly gotten rid of class ranking because of their “inaccuracy.” Students’ grades and rankings can be unrepresentative because of the impact of electives on GPA. Elective courses are not ranked as highly as honors classes, thus bringing down class ranks, despite high scores in other classes.

“Weighted grades have caused issues,” Hogue said. “In 1958, everybody took the same classes, so whoever scored the highest was the one that achieved the most. But now we have students that are taking Honors English 12 class, some are taking AP Lit, other kids taking classes at colleges. How can we add that up and say who scored the best? Is it even important to say who scored the best? Or is it just important to encourage everybody to do the best they can?”

The alternative method would be, instead of naming not a valedictorian or salutatorian, recognizing students with 4.0 GPAs or above. All the students who achieve 4.0s would be announced at graduation for their achievement, but no one would be deemed “smarter” for having a difference of .0008 on their GPA, as the valedictorian race was between graduates Hannah Schuller and Taylor Donovan last year.

Hogue said he believes the class ranking is not a good indicator of intelligence when such a variety of classes can be taken. He prefers ACT and SAT scores to identify intelligence, rather than a system that has too many variables to truly be accurate measures of student knowledge. The ACT and SAT scores would then be announced instead of class ranking at graduation.

“I don’t think that class ranking should be demolished completely, but rather based off of weighted GPA,” said senior and predicted 2017 salutatorian Kate Shcherban. “Unweighted doesn’t show class rigor. Weighted showcases who is taking the harder classes, putting in the most time and effort, and it would be most beneficial to use that instead.”

Seniors were told this year that class ranking could be based off of unweighted GPA. There have been rumors that the school rotates on and off every year to determine whether weighted or unweighted should be used, but guidance counselor Ira Campbell assures the seniors that this is not the case.

The school has not used unweighted GPA as long as Campbell has worked here. This year’s graduating class ranking will once again be based on weighted GPAs.

“GPA can be manipulated so easily by taking easier classes,” said senior Kenny Guzy, who supports getting rid of the class ranking. “For example, someone taking four AP classes,  [who is] extremely smart, could have worse grades than a student with A’s in all easy classes and get a higher GPA…overall, not a good way to accurately grade skill. I don’t think that colleges should look at GPAs.”

The change will take time, though, since the idea is still new to faculty, families and students at SHS. The earliest it could be implemented is next year, solely for the incoming freshmen class of 2021. This change would not affect any of the current high school students.

“Some of the flaws are that students sometimes focus too much on rank and the competition,” Campbell said. This was shown at Hudson High School, where students often cheated to get in the Top Ten, so the school board had to get rid of the class ranking system.

There are doubts to what this new method’s advantage is, however, as it would eliminate the valedictorian and salutatorian scholarships currently awarded. These scholarships can offer as much as a full ride to college. Some kind of substitution would need to be made for these scholarships.

The administrators are still working out solutions to this problem, hence the reason for the change being delayed.