Devaluing achievement: "everyone can be a winner," what it means to be a valedictorian

"Rarely received a B" means that you get a 4.0. Well, yes, when AP classes are graded on a 5.0 scale. So if you take AP classes, a "B" student can be valedictorian.

"At this time, I would like to award all 41 students who have achieved that honor," Meier said as the crowd cheered. "I tell these guys," Meier joked, "the only thing I have in common with them is I rarely received a B in high school myself." . . . .

As high school graduates across the region accept their diplomas this month, one tradition has changed greatly. The title of valedictorian -- the coveted top slot for the brainiest student -- is no longer necessarily reserved for the single best student.

A growing number of schools, such as Robinson, bestow the title on every graduate who earns a grade-point average of 4.0 or higher. . . . .


Blogger Darkside007 said...

That's pretty nuts.

But weighing AP courses heavier is a better idea, I think, than the flat-rate they do now. There were a few students in my small HS that took almost all AP courses, and because the AP in my high school, was in fact AP, they didn't get straight A's. It opens up the possibilty of some under-achievier scoring the honor because they took easy courses.

6/17/2006 6:20 PM  
Anonymous mikel said...

Another example of the soccerization of America. Let's make everybody a winner so nobody feels left out. Everyone gets a trophy, everyone gets a full uniform. Let's make everyone who shows up for graduation a valedictorian, whether they got all A+'s or D's.
Kids like competition. It's the parents that can't handle it.

6/17/2006 6:34 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

I think that it is fine that AP classes being weighted more. I was just explaining why 4.0 did not imply a perfect score. Putting someone with a B average at the same level as someone with a perfect A average seems bizarre to me.

6/17/2006 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

I think that schools should announce a "One Valedictorian" policy.

That still leaves the bothersome problem of AP vs regular courses, and how to weigh them.

I believe kids should be rewarded for challenging themselves, and not be rewarded for not challenging themselves. (Caveat: "not rewarded" is different from "punished".)

Why not adopt a policy in which to be eligible for valedictorian a student must complete no fewer than "X" AP courses in each of "Y" years?

Does that make sense?


6/18/2006 10:07 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Thanks, Brian. In some sense that suggestion works, though you might want to have a system that gives greater incentive to taking more AP classes. If you have something like the differenetial weighting system, there is always the incentive to keep on taking more and more AP classes. Having those classes graded on a 5.0 scales is pretty arbitrary. The system you mention creates an incentive to take a certain set number of AP classes and that is it.

6/18/2006 1:58 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home