The road to parity is paved with good intentions…

Principals say that recognizing multiple valedictorians reduces pressure and competition among students, and is a more equitable way to honor achievement, particularly when No. 1 and No. 5 may be separated by only the smallest fraction of a grade from sophomore science. But some scholars and parents have criticized the swelling valedictorian ranks as yet another symptom of rampant grade inflation, with teachers reluctant to jeopardize the best and brightest’s chances of admission to top-tier colleges.

Reducing pressure is one thing.  Reducing competition is another [bad idea].  There is absolutely no point in having multiple valedictorians.  Multiple valedictorians are simply a group who graduated with high honors.  It is a good intentioned bad idea.  On a personal level, I attended a high school that was academically challenging.  We celebrated our valedictorian and in fact the top 10 members of the class. Beyond that 10, the school’s student ranking simply read, “We stand behind the reputation of all of our graduates.”  The school was competitive, though, not to a fault–at least in my opinion.

And then there is this:

The school [Loyola Law School Los Angeles] is retroactively inflating its grades, tacking on 0.333 to every grade recorded in the last few years. The goal is to make its students look more attractive in a competitive job market.

A bad idea with deceptive intentions.  It would seem that this would only make it harder for alumni of this institution as word starts to get out that they are essentially cooking the books on their kids.

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3 Responses

  1. Via Tanner Young on Facebook:

    “So you’re saying that the possibility of multiple valedictorians reduces the degree of competition between students; thus competition and performance are maximized with the possibility of only one valedictorian?

    But how do you think we should tradeoff reduced pressure for decreased performance and visa versa?”

  2. If the school chose to honor a select “High Honors” group, I think that would might ease pressure with a fall back group near valedictorian status that high performers can console themselves by winning. It might even add a prestige that lower high but not valedictorian level students would still aspire to achieve. Completely abolishing the valedictorian would be preferable to honoring multiple.

    And really, they don’t have to worry so much about grades because they’ll just be elevated retroactively anyway 🙂

  3. BTW here are the responses to the original article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/opinion/l29graduate.html

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