Typewriters. Flip phones. Blockbuster video stores. Class rank. Three of the aforementioned four things are anachronisms, callbacks to our past. And the fourth thing, class rank, will soon be an anachronism. Indeed, it’s well on its way. For years, we at Ivy Coach have been calling on high schools to end class rank (see: Decline of Class Rank), to end distinguishing students as valedictorians and salutatorians. After all, ranking students — pitting one student against another student — only hurts these students when they apply to highly selective colleges. It creates an unnecessary level of competition.
And while many high schools across America and around the world are still ranking students and still dubbing certain students valedictorians and salutatorians, there has been a noticeable trend in recent years away from this practice. As Carolyn Thompson reports for “US News & World Report” in a piece aptly entitled “The End of the Valedictorian? Schools Rethink Class Rankings,” “At many American high schools, the graduation-day tradition of crowning a valedictorian is becoming a thing of the past. The ranking of students from No. 1 on down, based on grade-point averages, has been fading steadily for about the past decade. In its place are honors that recognize everyone who scores at a certain threshold — using Latin honors, for example…About half of schools no longer report class rank, according to the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Administrators worry about the college prospects of students separated by large differences in class rank despite small differences in their GPAs, and view rankings as obsolete in an era of high expectations for every student, association spokesman Bob Farrace said.”
We salute these high school for saying no to the salutatorian. Ok, that was corny. But seriously — these schools that are dropping class rank, these schools that are dropping valedictorian and salutatorian labels are doing right by their students. The highly selective college admissions process is stressful enough. There’s no need to pit one student at a high school against another. Let’s end class rank once and for all.