The Poland Board of Education is exploring the possibility of revising valedictorian standards.
In Poland, valedictorians are chosen after seven semesters in high school, meaning the final class rankings could shift during the eighth semester, said Dr. Larry Dinopoulos, school board president, who added that Poland school boards have changed the requirements in the past.
According to the current practice, if an announced valedictorian does not achieve a 4.0 grade-point average at the end of the school year, his or her name is not placed on a school plaque.
“This is an evolving thing and we’ve asked high school administrators and guidance counselors to look into it,” Dinopoulos said.
High school Principal Kevin Snyder told the board at a special meeting earlier this month that he had reached out to colleagues, and “all the schools run into the same issue.”
Board member Robert Shovlin said he was concerned that some students who were chosen valedictorian, but ultimately did not achieve a 4.0 GPA, had unfairly received scholarship monies for the distinction.
Snyder said that currently all colleges and universities receive final transcripts of Poland graduates and would know whether the student was no longer ranked first in the class. He added that because high schools nationwide have different criteria to be a valedictorian, many colleges don’t place much weight on the title when admitting students.
Snyder said if the board decides to alter curriculum requirements to be valedictorian, current high school students should be grandfathered in under the old requirements.
“The easiest thing is a semantics change,” he said.
That would mean in the pre-graduation announcements students would be listed as “candidates for valedictorian,” and the commencement programs would have the final valedictorians and salutatorian in it, Snyder said. Lakeview schools in Cortland does this, he added.
Poland isn’t the first school to tinker with valedictorian rankings. Canfield approved a new ranking system for this school year that will use a weighted grade-point-average system instead of weighted ranking system.
Canfield students can now earn the rank of cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude, according to Vindicator files.
Austintown Superintendent Vincent Colaluca also has said that he wants to put together a committee to review Austintown’s valedictorian system, which currently could have multiple valedictorians.
Dinopoulos says the Poland board will continue to research the topic.
“There are different sets of requirements at schools. My personal opinion is there shouldn’t be 16 valedictorians,” Dinopoulos said.