Land O’Lakes, Fla. (CBS TAMPA) — A Florida county school board has begun the process of potentially eliminating the titles of valedictorian and salutatorian for the top-ranking members of their graduating high school classes, citing an overly competitive and “insane” race to the top by students.

The Pasco County School board will put to a vote whether or not the distinctions of valedictorian and salutatorian will be removed, starting with the class of 2018. According to The Tampa Tribune report, Superintendent Kurt Browning and other school board officials say that colleges “don’t care” about the titles and that Latin designations used in universities – cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude – could replace the two titles to give more seniors the opportunity for recognition at their graduation ceremonies.

“Everything is geared toward getting that title,” Browning told the Tampa Bay Times. “Colleges and universities don’t even care who is valedictorian or salutatorian.

Browning says that the local high school students’ race for the top spot has become “insane,” and that some students and their parents have adopted a “whatever it takes” attitude toward becoming valedictorian. Browning said that school board members first discussed such changes to the district’s honor-roll system in addition to the removal of the top titles at a June 3 meeting.

School officials at the meeting stated that the traditional valedictorian and salutatorian titles had created an overly competitive race that had gotten out of control and lost sight of the educational process, The Tampa Tribune reports. Some students were reportedly making course selections based solely on higher GPA weight in addition to selecting dual enrollment classes instead of Advanced Placement classes for more points.

The board also noted that angry parents were often paying a visit to the superintendent when their child lost out on the top titles, sometimes by just hundredths of a percentile.

Browning said that there are no proposed changes to class rankings despite the proposal to remove the top titles. The proposed changes would also include altering the honor-roll system for A’s and B’s in addition to a “superintendent honor roll” being awarded at the end of the school year.

The final votes on the proposals are expected for Aug. 5.

But some college officials don’t agree with Browning or the school board’s view on the irrelevance of the valedictorian and salutatorian titles.

“A lot of valedictorians and salutatorians have many offers and opportunities,” spokeswoman Lucy Miller of Pasco-Hernandez State College told the Times, adding that the college gives students a $2,000-a-year scholarship to those students. “We’re always thrilled when they choose to come to PHSC.”

According to the Tribune, some schools in the Pasco district already use the Latin designations for students based upon weighted GPA’s: For cum laude, the GPA is 3.2 to 3.7999; for magna cum laude, it’s 3.8 to 4.1999; and for summa cum laude, it’s 4.2 or higher.


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