The push for multiple valedictorians began years ago, prompted by concerns that high school had become too competitive -- so competitive that a few students seeking the title filed lawsuits. As more students enrolled in weighted advanced classes and earned grade-point averages far above 4.0, educators wondered whether it was fair to single out one teenager. There was concern a student would take a less challenging class to guarantee an A or take on an unreasonable workload of weighted classes to boost a GPA.Interesting multiple causation. First, there's that horror of competition that we were just talking about yesterday. Second, lawyers. (They're everywhere!) Third, the students, unsurprisingly, pursue their self interest. They engage in the age-old search for the easy A. And now they've got the second strategy of taking classes where you can get, essentially, more than an A.
If there were no weighted grades, you'd know that if you had a 4.0, you would be valedictorian (but you'd still share it with everyone else who got a 4.0). Weighted grades create an amorphous system. You don't know how much you need to come in first. Pursuing the actual number one spot in a weighted GPA system has to cause a lot of stress and uncertainty, but it seems like a good idea to keep the easy-A strategy from working too well.
The title of valedictorian is a terrific prize, and it becomes meaningless if every great student wins it. Why replicate the message that is already present in the academic records? Just give the prize to the person with the highest GPA and be done with it. State the rule in advance and follow it. That's certainly the best lawyer repellent.