Indiana district latest to end its valedictorian tradition

(WISH Photo)

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (AP/WISH) — A central Indiana school district is set to become the latest in the state to stop naming high school valedictorians, a shift that’s intended to spur top students to focus on preparing for college and taking courses that interest them.

Starting with the graduation class of 2020, Noblesville Schools will join two other districts in Hamilton County, just north of Indianapolis, in making the change. Carmel Clay and Westfield-Washington schools dropped their valedictorian tradition years ago.

Noblesville High School Principal Jeff Bryant released the following letter to parents to explain the decision and how students will be honored in the future:

During the past two years, we have spent time reviewing our grading system. This has included evaluating our weighted grades, class ranking system, and alternative ways to honor student success. Much of our research has included researching other schools’ systems for celebrating academic successes. In addition, we have investigated what colleges and universities look for during the application and admissions process.

Our goal in reviewing our class ranking system was to develop ways of honoring students for meeting an academic standard and not merely for competing academically against their peers. In doing so, we wanted to give students the freedom and ability to take courses of their choosing without concern for whether a peer was taking more AP or honors courses with weighted grades. We are now excited to share our new system of honoring students that meets this goal.

Starting with the class of 2018, we will implement the “Latin” honor system described below that celebrates student performance based on an academic standard.

  • Summa Cum Laude – all students with a grade point average of 4.0 and higher will wear a gold cord during the commencement ceremony.
  • Magna Cum Laude – all students with a grade point average of 3.75-3.99 will wear a silver cord during the commencement ceremony.
  • Cum Laude – all students with a grade point average of 3.5-3.74 will wear a white cord during the commencement ceremony.

In addition, the class of 2019 will be the final class at Noblesville High School to honor a valedictorian and salutatorian. After the class of 2019, we will honor our students using the above system and choose commencement speakers through an application and audition process. Below is the transition timeline to this new system.

  • Class of 2018 (current juniors) – valedictorian and salutatorian and Latin honors (no class rank)
  • Class of 2019 (current sophomores) – valedictorian and salutatorian and Latin honors (no class rank)
  • Class of 2020 and beyond (current freshmen) – Latin honors, distinguished class representatives as commencement speakers (no class rank and no valedictorian and salutatorian)

We believe this new formula for honoring academic success encourages students to select courses based on a personal learning pathway that meets their academic and personal interests without being influenced by peer academic competition. At the same time, it appropriately honors student academic success against a scholarly standard.

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