Change system

Dear Editor:

An open letter of congratulations to the unknown Valedictorian and Salutatorian of the DeForest High School graduating class of 2019. You have persevered for four years, maintaining a very high grade point, while also pursuing advanced placement and most challenging courses. You have also been identified as a Summa Cum Laude achiever. A long and arduous path, but you were relentless in your pursuit of this goal.

Oh! But wait! I am so sorry that your school administrators have decided not to award you this most desired prize. Apparently your School Superintendent, and your School Board President, felt that these highest honors to the two top students would be “too overwhelming” for the rest of your classmates and their parents. They felt it might be too close to call. Your administrators decided to abandon the V and S titles because research with a number of school districts had shown that some students, eager to become eligible for the coveted scholastic titles would game the system (even with parental knowledge and approval) in later semesters by avoiding what would be considered the more challenging courses. Instead, they would concentrate, to the extent possible, on the “basket weaving” type courses to assure high grades, rather than risk a lower grade from more meaningful courses that would better prepare them for post-graduate studies or life work.

Better to just include you as part of the larger group of 25 or so Summa Cum Laude classmates. And then you were also recognized as being part of the Top 10 Scholastic Achievers in your class. But that is as close as they were willing to come. They saw no need to identify you as being at the very top of your class.

Ironically, it seems that for the athletic programs, your administrators are very comfortable with the numerous individual achievement acknowledgements. They are pleased to recognize the Most Valuable, Most Improved, Most This, Most That, Longest This, Fastest That and on and on. Top achievers may make it by 1 point, or 1 second, or 1 inch. Some are very subjective. And of course, the scholastic differences between you and some of your peers were very slight and prone to subjective evaluations as well. Then too, the elimination of the plus (+) and minus (-) grades made it even more difficult due to the greater ranges created by the A, AB, B, BC, etc. grading.

So the V/S identification was abandoned due to its reliance on a flawed straight grade point. Rightly so. The Laude System was adopted that correctly recognized the more rigorous and challenging courses and the Advanced Placement courses and awarded points accordingly.

While the Laude system is the best to determine true scholastic achievement, it need not preclude the V/S identification. In fact, school administration is required to identify the top two graduates of each class, in order to qualify for the state scholarship programs. So while you would be known to your administrators, they refuse to make that information available to your classmates or the public and award you your true designation. Sorry, but congratulations to the would be (but remaining unknown) Valedictorian and Salutatorian. Were you just over the line into the Sun Prairie or Poynette School District, you would be given your rightful titles.

Jerry Fuller


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