Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Valedictorians, Valedictorians Everywhere...

But, not a lot of think. Since at Garfield High you could be outside the top 10% of your graduating class, and still be a 'valedictorian':

This year's 406-member graduating class at Garfield High School features 44 valedictorians. Forty-four students with perfect 4.0 grade-point averages who, over seven semesters of mostly honors and Advanced Placement classes, have never earned less than an A.

....the multiple valedictorians at Garfield are reflective of a national trend of rewarding a number of high-achieving students at graduation rather than singling out one.

And nationally, Garfield may be just mid-range. Bullard High School in Fresno, Calif., is graduating 58 valedictorians this year.

....Thomas Guskey, a University of Kentucky education professor, said that in schools that use decimal grading, the GPAs of top students may differ by only a hundredth of a percentage point. And he said that parents unhappy with such hair-splitting have taken their complaints to court.

"After special education, the biggest number of school court cases is around the selection of valedictorians," he said.

Amy Hagopian, Garfield's PTSA co-president and mother of one of the valedictorians....pointed out, this year's valedictorians don't reflect the school's full diversity. Only one African-American student earned the top honor, although blacks make up 22 percent of the student body.

"It's pretty much a parade of white and Asian faces," said Hagopian. "That's one of our dilemmas at Garfield."

Part of Garfield's mission under first-year principal Howard is to raise the academic achievement of a broader spectrum of students. Howard said he isn't satisfied with 44 valedictorians.

"I want more," he said. "I want high achievement to be infectious. I want every student here to realize the opportunities that could be waiting for them when they walk out these doors."

Howard may get his wish. Among Garfield's freshman class, 129 currently have perfect 4.0s.

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