- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 19, 2016

A North Carolina school board has voted to stop naming high school valedictorians and salutatorians in an effort to reduce “unhealthy” competition among students.

The Wake County school board unanimously gave initial approval Tuesday to a policy that would prohibit principals from naming the two top-ranking students in a graduating class after 2018, The News & Observer reported.

“We have heard from many, many schools that the competition has become very unhealthy,” school board Chairman Tom Benton told the paper in an interview. “Students were not collaborating with each other the way that we would like them to. Their choice of courses was being guided by their GPA and not their future education plans.”

The new policy encourages high school principles to use “broad means of recognizing student achievement,” instead of class rank, though state law will still require the board to record class rank on student transcripts.

Starting in 2019, student achievement will be recognized with Latin titles, such as cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa magna cum laude — similar to the language that colleges use to recognize exceptional students, The News & Observer reported.

The new system would reportedly result in more seniors being recognized.

“We think it’s much healthier to set high expectations and high requirements for magna cum laude,” Mr. Benton explained. “The students now have a target that they can shoot for and if they achieve that they’re recognized for that.

“I love competition,” he added. “But there are competitions that you can measure very correctly and they do spur people on to bigger and better things.”

Final approval of the policy change could come June 7, The News & Observer reported.

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