Virginia school district eliminates class rank, valedictorian designation

U.S. & World

With a 7-3 vote, the Virginia Beach School Board has opted to end the class rank system and the naming of valedictorian and salutatorian. 

The Virginia Beach City Public Schools have decided to replace class rank with the Latin honors system: Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude.

“I think we have privileged the idea of being ranked 1, 2, 3 or 4 as really more important than the learning that occurs,” said Daniel Keever, executive director of high schools.

Keever says Virginia Beach is “late to the party” in getting rid of class rank. The policy, if approved, will take effect for the Class of 2022.

“Colleges and universities are giving a lot less credence to the idea of a class rank in their review process,” he said.

A survey of 1,500 parents conducted in January shows 77 percent support of the idea of switching to the Latin system; however, 65 percent also view class rank as important.

One of survey respondents said, “I feel that replacing the current system and grouping everyone together will prevent the top students from distinguishing themselves.”

However, some parents tell 10 On Your Side they value the competition between students vying for the top spot.

“I feel that if a kid pushes himself to become valedictorian, I think he deserves that right to call himself number one,” said Kevin Taylor, whose four-year-old son would be impacted by the change. “Competition will be dead.”

Keever points out the Latin system puts students on equal footing. He says some students have greater access to honors classes, which increases their chances for a higher GPA because those classes are weighted more heavily.  

“Your general run-of-the-mill student who worked hard for four years and received an ‘A’ for four years, which would be a 4.0 average, wasn’t even in the top 100.”

The new policy includes the following honor designations:

  • 3.0-3.49 GPA = Honor graduate
  • 3.5-3.75 GPA = Cum Laude
  • 3.76-3.99 GPA = Magna Cum Laude
  • 4.0 GPA and above = Summa Cum Laude

Valedictorian and Salutatorian will not be used, according to the policy.

“We are not giving every student a trophy,” said Keever. “We are able to recognize more students for outstanding achievement.”

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