- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 15, 2002

SALISBURY, Md. (AP) The Wicomico County school board has voted to do away with ranking students by grade-point average, eliminating the selection of class valedictorians.
Schools will continue to use the 4.0 grade scale, but will install a three-tiered designation system to recognize a broader number of students: summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude. The change will take effect in 2004.
Board members said that the change was sought because the system was flawed and becoming increasingly antiquated as more universities choose not to consider class rank in the college admissions process.
"We acknowledge we are not able to determine the valedictorian," said Eddie Boyd, the board's vice president. "We are going to recognize the highest achievement, but we just can't squeeze it down to a single person."
The board began discussing the change in the summer, and Superintendent Charlene Cooper Boston proposed the tiered system in October. That proposal was altered after board member Jon Sherwall said that there should be a special designation for straight-A students who achieve a 4.0 grade average.
"At the heart of the issue is recognizing the students with the highest academic performance. I think we should clearly set these individuals up as an example of excellence," Mr. Sherwall said.
Board members said that some students manipulate their class schedule under the current system to boost their standing.
For example, students who take advanced placement courses receive extra grade points, so those competing for valedictorian may select a study hall rather than take a non-AP course that could effectively lower their GPA.
Students concerned about their class rank but not in competition for valedictorian also may choose to take less challenging courses to get a higher grade and boost their position.

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