No More Competition: Demerits for Valedictorians

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The York, Pennsylvania, school district has decided [1] to eliminate the practice of honoring the top-achieving students as “valedictorian” or “salutatorian.” According to school board officials, this practice may promote unhealthy competition. Students, however, appear to have a different view of such honorifics. Caroline Klidonas, a 17-year-old rising senior asked [1] in an interview on Tuesday with the York Daily Record,

“How would anybody succeed at anything if there’s not competition? You get what you work for and that’s all there is to it … Why wouldn’t the school want us to have that kind of mindset?”

In an interview with Fox News, Caroline expressed [2] her displeasure with the school board’s decision to no longer honor academic excellence in her school district.

“…[students] would definitely like for valedictorian and salutatorian to be honored… if you have awards in all the other areas just like athletics and even the performing arts…why not the top two overall?”

This practice of avoiding hurt feelings has led to serious consequences [3] for those at the top, especially when applying to colleges. Schools that do not use class rank have made admissions and scholarships more difficult for their students. Without a comparison within schools, admission counselors have to give more weight to standardized test scores and even eliminate these students. In a 2006 interview with the New York Times, William M. Shain, dean of undergraduate admissions at Vanderbilt University explained that students from schools that calculate class rank are more frequently admitted, and students without a rank or grade information had the lowest admission rates. Shain stated [3]:

“The less information a school gives you, the more whimsical our decisions will be. And I don’t know why a school would do that… You’re saying your grades don’t matter and that you won’t tell us what they mean. I think it’s an abdication of educational responsibility.”

Most Americans realize the significance of distinguishing the work and achievement of top students from the rest. Not recognizing good work minimizes the importance of academic achievement and fails to reward those who have excelled in school. By contrast, promoting competition serves students’ best interests and prepares them to be successful in the future.

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Posted By Carol Thetford On June 25, 2009 @ 10:19 am In Education

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