The Jessamine County Board of Education will consider doing away with ranking graduating seniors at its April meeting, possibly changing the requirements in time for the class of 2014.
The school district’s current policy assigns class rank to students based on quality points, which accumulate with each class taken. The new policy would eliminate the tabulation of class rank and institute the Latin honor system for graduates that is based on grade-point average (GPA).
Parent Brent Seales started the discussion when he suggested at a May 2011 board meeting that the GPA was a fairer metric to use than the quality-point system, which deputy superintendent Owens Saylor said earlier this year was causing students to “play games” to earn higher ranks while taking easier classes. The quality-point system was first used for the class of 2008.
After discussions with principals and students, Saylor hosted a parent forum in January to gain feedback on instituting the change to a GPA ranking for the class of 2016. Seales questioned at that meeting why class ranking was necessary at all since many colleges don’t require it, and he asked why the changes could not go into effect for the class of 2014, whose current sophomore population has not been ranked at all yet.
Jimmy Adams, director of secondary schools, had visited the high schools and found that juniors and seniors were in favor of keeping the current quality-point system while freshmen and sophomores showed no preference, Saylor said.
“Why should we make those kids operate under that system if it’s not really that big of an impact and we have a system that we like better?” Saylor said. “To keep it in place with four years would seem to be a little counterproductive at this point.”
Saylor presented a proposed policy to the board Monday with both those changes. Under that policy, beginning with the class of 2014, valedictorians and salutatorians would no longer be recognized. Those with GPAs of 4.1 or higher would be recognized as summa cum laude, with those 3.75 or higher announced as magna cum laude and those 3.5 or higher announced as cum laude.
Officials at East and West Jessamine high schools were “strongly wishing” to do away with the labels of valedictorian and salutatorian, Saylor said.
“The Latin honors is just more democratic,” superintendent Lu Young said, “because anybody who falls in that top category would be recognized, so it wouldn’t be singling out a student from that group.”
All graduates would be seated and announced alphabetically under the proposed policy, a practice already partially in place at West Jessamine High School, Saylor said.
No board members raised any objections to Saylor’s presentation Monday night. Saylor said the policy would be presented to the board for a first reading at its April 30 meeting, and with approval could see a second reading at the May meeting and be in place for the class of 2014 at the beginning of the next school year.