Getting rid of Valedictorian?


When my daughter told me her boyfriend was his high school valedictorian, I was impressed. But should I be? Does high school rank have an indication on career success?

Lately, I find myself saying over and over that the pressure on teens to perform well in high school to get into a good college has gotten insane. If fact, it’s so insane that my kids and high school teachers I have talked to about it tell me that cheating has reach epic proportions.

So, I found it interesting when I saw in today’s Sun-Sentinel that the county I live in, Broward County, may eliminate the practice of awarding the top two high school students the titles of valedictorian and salutaorian. Instead, the top 15 percent of the students would be honored as either cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude — distinctions typically awarded at colleges.

The Broward School Board feels the change would curb the nasty competition that often brews among students and parents and reflect what colleges are looking for, which they claim is “the total package”.

The other night, I walked into my son’s room and he was face down in his AP history book at midnight. I  love that he wants to do well in school and get into a top college. I know not every teen is motivated by good grades. But there’s even more than grades for these teens to worry about. Teens are under enormous pressure to have “the total package” — good grades, good test scores, extracurricular activities and leadership skills. I got to admit, as a parent, I get stressed by it. 

But, even if you get rid of Valedictorian or Salutatorian, I don’t think the competition would get any less intense. My son and the rest of Broward County high school students would still have to compete with thousands of seniors who are applying to colleges from counties all over the U.S. and they would still feel the pressure. While I admire the school board attempt to do something, I’m not sure there is an easy solution.

 Parents, what are your thoughts? Do you think they should get rid of high school rankings?


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