Being publicly recognized as a valedictorian or a salutatorian is a long standing tradition in American schools, but the designations many be ending in Dearborn Public Schools.
The Dearborn Board of Education, amid policy changes to its academic dishonesty policy, publicly discussed at their July 9 meeting whether having the designations are warranted, and if it would negatively affect students if they were done away with.
“I think there’s a lot of pressure and competition among kids to be a valedictorian and a salutatorian, and many school districts have decided to honor students in a different way,” said Trustee Pamela Adams, the chair of the board’s policy committee.
“It’s something we will be talking about more this summer, especially when we meet in August,” she added.
The topic of not having valedictorians and salutatorians came up after the policy committee recommended that the board disallow students found to be academically dishonest in their junior or senior year from graduating with recognition of excellence. Adams said the discussion then moved to how to best recognize high-achieving students.
Some schools nationally have decided to forego recognizing valedictorians and salutatorians because of the level of competition that occurs between students. Some Michigan schools have already done away with the designations, including Farmington Public Schools, as well as Andover and Lahser High Schools in Birmingham.
Should Dearborn Public Schools be amenable to changing how students are recognized, replacing the current system with the Magna Cum Laude/Cum Laude system colleges use could be an option, said Dave Mustonen, the district’s spokesman.
“We’re looking at ways to recognize more kids,” he said. “There may be many people who feel differently about it.”
Board President Mary Lane said she could support eliminating the designations, but added that the district should do more research before a decision is made.
“We need to look at what parents think and what our staff thinks,” she said. “We need to know how the community feels about this.”
Eliminating the valedictorians and salutatorians would not affect student rankings–the student with the highest grade point average would still be placed No. 1–but there are other perks to earning the designation, such as putting it on a college application, or speaking at graduation.
Adams said college applications would be unaffected because admission decisions are based on many things, the most important being academic performance.
The issue will likely be discussed again at the board's Aug. 20 meeting. In the meantime, vote in our poll and let us know how you feel about this issue in the comments.