Changes recommended for recognizing student achievement

In the 2017-2018 school year, a committee was established to examine what criteria colleges and universities are seeking in applicants. The mission of the committee was to identify the key components that colleges look for in prospective college applicants, and implement a system that increases, rather than limits, post-secondary school options for students.

The committee’s purpose:

  • To further develop a comprehensive plan for encouraging, recognizing and honoring student achievement.
  • To promote an academic environment that is challenging and rigorous and to prepare students for the rigors required by today’s college and universities.
  • To promote an environment that cultivates student character through volunteer/work-based learning experiences

According to the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC), less value has been placed on class rank as an indicator for college acceptance during the past decade in favor of a more holistic approach that considers grade point average, rigorous coursework, and involvement in activities that present a more complete picture of students’ skills and experiences.

An Admission Trends Survey by the NACAC found that in 2006, 23 percent of survey respondents rated class rank of “considerable importance;” in 2014, it dropped to 14 percent.

Many high schools across the country have revised traditional practices to better support student learning and encourage students to enroll in rigorous coursework. According to research done by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) up to 50 percent of high schools no longer report class rank. One reason cited for this trend is a growing concern that students are opting to take less challenging course work for fear that it could affect their class ranking.

The nine-member committee presented its findings to the Board of Education in April 2018 with a follow-up in June 2018. As a result of the research and data collected, the committee recommended phasing out the class rank system and replacing it with a 3-tiered model of recognizing student achievement beginning with the Class of 2020.

The following outcomes were recommended:

  • Discontinue with the traditional graduation ceremony (valedictorian/salutatorian and class rank). Recognize students based on rigorous course work, participation in College in the High School courses, and volunteer service/work-based learning hours.
  • Develop and implement a process for selecting student speakers at graduation.
  • Categorize class recognitions into 3 Tiers, as described below.

A look at the 3 Tier Model

Tier 1: Gold Status (30+ college credits and average of 90 or better)

  • 3-D Gold Medal of Achievement
  • Special Colored Ribbon

Tier 2: Silver Status (minimum of 15 college credits and average of 85 or better)

  • 3D Silver Medal of Achievement
  • Special Colored Ribbon

Tier 3: Volunteer Service Award

  • 125 Volunteer/Work-Based Learning Hours
    • Candidates complete documentation form to verify community service hours. This will be due by the end of the 3rd quarter of senior year.
    • The high school will provide students a list of suggested volunteer placements
    • Students can accumulate hours from grades 11-12.

Acknowledge other honors

Students will continue to be recognized for present honors (Advanced Regents, Honor Society, etc.)

Anyone with overall average of 90 or better

  • Honor cord for graduation ceremony

Honor Society

  • Extra gold tassel of recognition for graduation ceremony

Students entering the military

  • Wear sash that celebrates their branch of service

College Credit Courses Offered

3 Credit Courses:

  • American National Government
  • Business Communications
  • Creative Writing: Short Fiction
  • Creative Writing: Poetry
  • Contemporary Novel
  • African American Literature
  • Interpretations of American History I
  • Interpretations of American History II
  • Intermediate Algebra
  • Spanish Language and Culture III
  • Digital Imaging
  • Principles of Marketing
  • Intro to Advertising
  • Distance Learning Sociology
  • Distance Learning Psychology

4 Credit Courses

  • Topics in 2D Auto Cad
  •  Elementary Statistics
  •  Pre-calculus
  • Calculus

Committee Members

Ryan Groat, High School Principal
Kirsten DeMento, Director of Educational Programs & Accountability
Michael Foust, Assistant Principal 10-12
Kelly Webster, Assistant Principal 7-9
Kate McAvoy, School Counselor
David Olszewski, School Counselor
Scott Emerson, Social Studies Department Chair, WTA President
Heather Soroka, Board of Education Member, Parent
Robyn Scotland, Administrative Intern, Special Education Teacher
Miranda Luck, Student Representative