Monday, July 16, 2012

Oh, public school.

I know it is hard to summon up righteous indignation when it is so hot, and on a Monday too, but I am going to ask you to try.  A friend of mine alerted me to this little tidbit in our city's public school handbook (emphasis mine):



VALEDICTORIAN For classes of 2012, 13, 14, this award is given to the highest academically ranked graduate (weighted GPA). For class of 2015 and beyond, Valedictorian will be elected by the senior class from a pool of students with a 4.0 GPA or higher.

SALUTATORIAN For classes of 2012, 13, 14, this award is given to the second-highest academically ranked student (weighted GPA). For class of 2015 and beyond, Salutatorian will be elected by the faculty from a pool of students with a 4.0 GPA or higher.




Note:  it doesn't say that the valedictorian will be elected from the top ten-ranked students, or from all students with a GPA of 4.0 or higher, but from a "pool" of such students, which suggests that students are being chosen for this pool by the administration.  What's up with that?  


I heard that the reason for the change is fairness.  To me it seems pretty unfair to snatch the awards away from the two students who actually earned the two highest GPAs.   


I am the sort of person who isn't aware of trends until they come up and punch me in the face.  Is this in place at every school in the US and Charlottesville is the last one to join the crowd, or are we piloting a new weapon in the movement to turn public education into total bullshit?

14 comments:

  1. I wonder if it has anything to do with lawsuits? A sort of CYA change. Wikepedia indicates that schools choose valedictorians in various ways, and that the differences between the one who gets it and those who don't can be very small, which has lead to lawsuits against the schools.

    Pity people can't just be happy for someone else who did really well.

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  2. Oh, that totally blows. My school district still does it the old fashioned way (where weighted GPAs rule).
    I suppose the student body voting nullifies any dissent from parents.
    Being the PITA that I am, I would ask for the selection criteria from the counselors in writing just to watch them squirm since there probably is no policy or standard protocol.

    ugh.

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  3. That's interesting about the lawsuits, Cassi. I hadn't thought of that. I agree with you, though. Is it really worth it to bring a lawsuit over this?

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  4. I think this sucks big ones and I'm trying to figure out how we can fight this. I suspect this is going to have to come from the students, with parental support.

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  5. There is a pool of students with GPA's of 4.0 OR HIGHER?!?!?!

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  6. I am appalled.

    The reasoning given by the CHS Principal in the school newspaper was (I paraphrase) that students who take a non-academic class like orchestra shouldn't suffer because their over-achieving, non-musical classmates are taking classes that give more credit to their GPAs. I hope you can hear my sarcasm.

    The standard definition of valedictorian and salutatorian is based solely on GPA; it's not a popularity contest, which is exactly what CHS is trying to make it.

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  7. Becky, there are a lot of students with GPAs higher than 4.0 because an A grade in AP and honors classes is worth more than a 4.0. I think it's worth a 4.5 in honors and 5.0 in AP.

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  8. That sucks. Turning it into a popularity contest like prom royalty.

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  9. I think an election under these circumstances is ridiculous. On the other hand, I also think the obsession with metrics rather than learning is bad as well. I went to a tony High School many moons ago. Even then there was endlessly lobbying by students and their parents to get their grades adjusted upward. A certain kind of student was obsessed with their grade point average but not unfortunately whether they were actually learning anything. I have great hopes for the future in terms of open sourced learning on the Internet, but I am sure in the end the focus will shift there as well, from learning to certification and metrics.

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  10. My gut reaction is sweet, sweet relief that I'm not in high school anymore. This would have made my overachieving self break out in hives. Totally not fair.

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  11. My high school didn't officially recognize a valedictorian or salutatorian. (I only knew who it would have been because I worked in the guidance office.)

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  12. That's so crazy. I'm glad we just do it the same old way here--how awful for those kids who DO earn a solid standing.

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  13. Interesting. At my high school they didn't select valedictorian and salutatorian by GPA and class rank, but everyone who had straight A's all four years was a valedictorian, and I guess if you had one B or something you were salutatorian. I don't remember. I do remember that one year there were 7 valedictorians, which I thought was kind of ridiculous, and also that sometimes the salutatorian had a higher GPA/class rank than the valedictorian because the valedictorian got straight A's without ever having taken an honors/AP class--so the valedictorian had a 4.0 but the salutatorian had a 4.something else. I was never in the running either way, so I didn't have strong feelings about it.

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  14. It's a really good thing I don't have kids because I would be all up in the school board's business about something this stupid. Ugh.

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