Licking County News

Licking Heights School District

New method chosen to recognize top students

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

There will be no more valedictorians or salutatorians recognized in the Licking Heights School District as of this year.

Instead, Superintendent Philip Wagner said the district adopted a new class rank policy whereby the top academic performers achieve ranks of Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Cum Laude, similar to most colleges.

"Last year, 83 percent of our students went on to college," Wagner said.

"We moved away from only recognizing two students to be more current and competitive. This (ranking) is better recognized among colleges."

According to the policy adopted in July, students earning a grade-point average of 4.1 or above are Summa Cum Laude; those earning 3.89 to 4.09 are Magna Cum Laude; and those earning 3.7 to 3.88 are Cum Laude.

"We no longer have the moniker of valedictorian," said Wagner, who added the class rank policy hadn't been updated in 21 years.

He said the district has an additional guidance counselor who focuses completely upon collegiate and career readiness for students and after surveying other school districts and college admissions offices, the counselor discovered the Cum Laude ranking system is preferred.

"It's a more fair process," Wagner said. "We feel this better meets the needs of students."

Wagner was clear, however, that the district will still rank students numerically -- such as first in the class, third, 10th, etc. -- scholarship purposes and the like.

"I have kids who have gone through high school," said Mark Loth, board president.

He said his son was salutatorian and his daughter is a senior this year.

"It shouldn't come down to showcasing one or two students," Loth said.

"We have a lot of kids doing outstanding work."

Loth said the new system is also fairer to graduating seniors who need the ranking for applying to colleges.

He said it's often been a last minute scramble to determine class rank as students' GPAs are only tenths of a point apart.

Wagner said as the district strives to prepare its students for college, it continues to prepare non-college bound students for graduation as well.

"While we have more and more students going to college, we're still preparing them for jobs and military careers," he said.

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