Smithfield High set to discard class ranking

Smithfield High set to discard class ranking

SMITHFIELD – Valedictorians and salutatorians will be things of the past at Smithfield High School, as the school is phasing out its class ranking system beginning with the Class of 2023, says Principal Daniel Kelley.

As one of the district’s strategic plan objectives in the 2017-2018 school year, Kelley presented the proposed changes at the May 6 School Committee meeting.

He said the move will allow the school to recognize more students, emphasize growth, and decrease “unhealthy” academic competition by switching to a Latin system, with Cum Laude rankings based on grades, similar to colleges and universities.

Also, courses will start being weighted to award students who take challenging courses such as college prep, honors, advanced placement (AP) and early enrollment program (EEP) at the high school more credit toward their grade point average.

“Everyone agrees those classes are harder and more challenging and deserve to be worth more,” Kelley said.

Kelley is a member of the Class Rank Committee, which decided that a college prep course will be worth 1.0 credit, while honors are worth 1.05, and AP and EEP will be worth 1.10 credits.

Though the current ranking system does not weigh courses, for colleges that request a weighted ranking, honors, AP and EEP courses are weighted equally at 1.08 credits.

According to Kelley, most colleges and universities no longer use class rankings when reviewing applications, instead opting for a “holistic” approach emphasizing the rigor of coursework and corresponding grades as well as SAT/ACT scores and letters of recommendation.

It is highly doubtful that not reporting class rank will hurt students chances at college, he emphasized.

“The trend across our nation is fewer high schools reporting class rank and fewer colleges considering class rank,” he said.

Ranks will be provided on the rare occasion that it is necessary for a specific college application, he noted.

Rank-based scholarship programs such as the Bryant University Scholarship will be notified of the change in policy, said Kelley, and the high school will work with local providers on ways to change terms of “class rank” to reflect the honor system.

Kelley said the current practice of not weighing classes is an outdated system, and continuing to rank students applies too much pressure for students to compete among themselves rather than achieve to their best ability.

“It’s a shift that’s been happening across the country,” he said.

Taking the same students and comparing them under a weighted and unweighted ranking system, Kelley said he sees a “huge difference,” in the ordering.

“That’s the silliness of the concept. We’re talking about a thousandth of a point to distinguish between these GPAs. It could be one test that makes the difference between first and second,” he said.

Graduating students will receive colored cords under the new system, which will distinguish academic honors, including gold for Summa Cum Laude, silver for Magna Cum Laude, and white for Cum Laude.

More students will be recognized for higher honors than the customary honoring of the top 10 students, Kelley said.

Using unweighted class ranks, of the 183 students in the class of 2019, 50 would receive distinction at graduation with 13 reaching Summa Cum Laude. Using weighted class ranks, 53 students would receive distinction including 15 at Summa Cum Laude.

“We’re still in the ballpark of a top 10 scenario,” Kelley said.

“I think it makes sense and we get to honor more kids. Instead of top 10, we’ll have top 40-50 kids being recognized for their achievement,” he said.

On the bright side, Kelley said the valedictorian and salutatorian will no longer need to give a speech at graduation for merely having the highest GPA. Instead, students from the Summa Cum Laude group can elect to write a speech to be anonymously judged and selected for graduation.

“Why force the best in class to speak. Why do we keep up this tradition? Because it’s tradition does not mean it’s best for the individual kid,” Kelley said.



This kind of "Feel Good" mentality began quite a few years ago when decisions were made not to allow one's sensibilities to be hurt, or compromised, if he/she did not win in whatever competition they may have been competing in.

While we will always have 'Winners' (maybe?), we can no longer have losers! (IE: 2nd, 3rd, 4th place or last!)

Therefore, today, everyone is given "Participation" Trophies so that they can feel good, even though the task at hand was not achieved.

This is just one more attempt at the Elitist in Academia, with their many 'Social Engineering Programs' to further embrace 'Do Gooderism'. More-so the promulgating of 'Mediocrity' the detriment of all!

Sad! I certainly do hope the Smithfield School Committee has more 'Common Sense & Where-With-All' then does its Administration...more-so, its 'So-Called High School (Lack of) Leadership!

Or, are they going to allow their High School Principle to also institute 'Paticpatjon Awards' for every graduating senior???

Tom Letourneau
FormerCumberland 3-Term School Committee.

So, under this system of not hurting feelings, we're going to remove recognition for our top performers, discontinuing the practice of valedictorian and salutatorian speeches and instead, allow "anonymous" folks to decide who gets to read a speech. Yeah, this won't lead to any cronyism, will it? Why force the best kid to read a speech? Is this guy for real? For most of these kids, this is one of the highlights of their life. This is perhaps one of the dumbest ideas I've heard in a long time.

Please stop this craziness - this political correctness gone wild! This is the most ridiculous thing that I have heard. Students who have studied hard and WORKED to be the valedictorian deserve the recognition. By doing this, you are adding to the participation trophy generation.

This is great news! Hopefully more local high schools will follow this trend.

Don't listen to the naysayers. This change is good for students.