LANCASTER, N.Y. >> At many American high schools, the graduation-day tradition of crowning a valedictorian is becoming a thing of the past.
The ranking of students from No. 1 on down, based on grade-point averages, has been fading steadily for about the past decade. In its place are honors that recognize everyone who scores at a certain threshold — using Latin honors, for example. This year, one school in Tennessee had 48 valedictorians.
About half of schools no longer report class rank, according to the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Administrators worry about the college prospects of students separated by large differences in class rank despite small differences in their GPAs, and view rankings as obsolete in an era of high expectations for every student, association spokesman Bob Farrace said. There are also concerns about intense, potentially unhealthy competition and students letting worries about rank drive their course selections.
Among those weighing a change is Lancaster High School in suburban Buffalo, where students are leading an exploration of replacing valedictorian-salutatorian recognitions with the college-style Latin honors of summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude.