Valedictorian Title Losing Its Prestige

For years, the valedictorian title has been for a school’s best academic performer. There was only one student who received this top honor. However, many high schools are beginning to honor multiple valedictorians, according to an article in The New York Times.

            The prestige and honor that has always come with the valedictorian title is fading quickly as more schools pick up on this trend. Teachers and administrators are now giving the title to every straight-A student, instead of picking the best individual out of the class.

            Principals and administrators are offering multiple valedictorian titles in efforts to reduce competition and pressure among students. They believe that it’s not fair to better honor the top student over the 5th best student, especially when the differences in their GPAs are miniscule.

            Parents love to see their kids honored as the top performers in their high schools. However, some believe that it has gone too far, stating that this is another ploy by high schools to inflate and over exaggerate their students’ abilities.

            Critics of this trend state that, although it honors more students, it takes focus away from the single best student of that high school class. This then lessens that school’s actual valedictorian’s chances of getting accepted into elite colleges. Those who favor this trend and the critics both agree that it is a blatant effort to increase a high school’s notoriety.

            “It’s honor inflation,” said Chris Healy, an associate professor at Furman University. He also said that honoring too many students as valedictorians could leave them ill prepared for the competition in college and the work field. “I think it’s a bad idea if you’re No. 26 and you’re valedictorian. In the real world, you do get ranked.”

            Some high schools are honoring up to 94 students as valedictorians. Other schools are honoring as high as 6.5% of the graduating class as valedictorians.

            This increases students’ chances of being honored, and most students like this trend.

            Some schools are recognizing every student who receives straight-A’s throughout high school, regardless of the level of their classes, as valedictorians. Other schools weight grades, showing favoritism to students who take harder, upper-level courses.

            Recently, many high schools have tried to increase their notoriety by adding more Advanced Placement classes and allowing more students to take them. High schools have altered their GPA scales; so students can receive a 5.0 instead of a 4.0 in certain advanced classes. This can drastically increase a student’s overall GPA. High schools are trying to make their students’ look better than other, competing schools’, in attempts to place more students in the nation’s elite colleges.

            However, most high schools continue to claim that they are not lowering the bar by making classes easier. So, students are not learning less in an effort to look better. Most education administrators and officials place credence in this claim.

            It is expected that these trends of inflating students’ abilities will continue. High schools are beginning to understand that they need to do so in order to compete and place students at top colleges.