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DEBATE OVER VALEDICTORIANS; GRADE-POINT CHANGES LEAD TO OPTIONS IN SELECTION.

Byline: Karen Maeshiro Daily News Staff Writer

With changes in calculating grade-point averages making it possible to score higher than the traditionally perfect 4.0, Antelope Valley Union High School District The Antelope Valley Union High School District (A.V.U.H.S.D.) is located in the Antelope Valley area of California, in northern Los Angeles County.

The district includes eight public high schools, one trade school, and two continuation high schools in the cities of Palmdale
 officials are considering changing how valedictorians are selected.

Should everyone who scores 4.0 or higher be named co-valedictorian, or everyone with all A's in college prep classes? Should any senior whose GPA GPA
abbr.
grade point average

Noun 1. GPA - a measure of a student's academic achievement at a college or university; calculated by dividing the total number of grade points received by the total number attempted
 falls within a certain percentage of the top GPA be valedictorian? Or should the title be changed to summa cum laude sum·ma cum lau·de  
adv. & adj.
With the greatest honor. Used to express the highest academic distinction: graduated summa cum laude; a summa cum laude graduate.
, like colleges use, or dropped entirely for fear of hurt feelings?

``It's something we need to define because we changed our grading, and we now honor weighted grades. It changes how you calculate valedictorians,'' Superintendent Robert Girolamo said.

The weighted GPA system started in 1996, with that year's freshman class. The system assigns a higher score in calculating grade-point average to honors and advanced classes - 5 points for an A, instead of 4 like in other courses.

But a wrinkle Wrinkle

A feature of a new product or security intended to entice a buyer.
 in the system is that a top student who takes additional - but nonhonors - classes would be penalized pe·nal·ize  
tr.v. pe·nal·ized, pe·nal·iz·ing, pe·nal·iz·es
1. To subject to a penalty, especially for infringement of a law or official regulation. See Synonyms at punish.

2.
: If two top students each score A's in six honors or advanced classes, but one of them takes an extra nonhonors class and scores a 4.0 in it, the student who didn't take the extra class comes away with a higher GPA.

If the district keeps the current practice of giving valedictorian to the top GPA, which now could be decided by a hundredth of a point, a district staff report said, ``The pressure and uncertainty of this system may result in student and parent decisions that promote short-term attainment of valedictorian status with less regard to long-term educational needs.''

The board will discuss the matter at its meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the district's board meeting room, 44811 Sierra Highway Sierra Highway is a road in Southern California, United States. It runs from Tunnel Station near the north limit of the City of Los Angeles, where it intersects with San Fernando Road and Foothill Boulevard, as well as Interstate 5, and continues north to Mojave, mostly paralleling .

Under current district policy, the student or students who achieve a 4.0 GPA, the highest possible, is designated the valedictorian at their school. Last year, the schools averaged five valedictorians each.

With the first ninth-grade group of students under the weighted system graduating in June 2000, it will likely result in a single valedictorian being selected if the present system is kept, a district staff report said.

Administrative staffers have come up with six options for the board to consider governing the selection of valedictorians.

The first is to not designate any valedictorians or salutatorians. ``Some districts have done this to eliminate the pressure and possible disappointment that is associated with this designation. College entrance decisions are made before this designation is conferred con·fer  
v. con·ferred, con·fer·ring, con·fers

v.tr.
1. To bestow (an honor, for example): conferred a medal on the hero; conferred an honorary degree on her.
. Therefore, it is a high school award that has no effect on future plans,'' the report said.

Girolamo said designation of valedictorians has become a tradition that some people hold dear and consider important.

``It doesn't have a great deal of weight in college admissions. It's more of a social thing than anything else. People still like to declare, I'm a valedictorian,'' Girolamo said.

The second is to use the same selection procedure now in use, based on who has the highest GPA. The report noted that this system provides a disincentive dis·in·cen·tive  
n.
Something that prevents or discourages action; a deterrent.


disincentive
Noun

something that discourages someone from behaving or acting in a particular way

Noun 1.
 for students to take extra nonhonors classes.

The third option is to designate all students with a 4.0 or greater GPA as co-valedictorians, which district staff is recommending the board approve.

The fourth option is to designate all students who have all A grades in required college preparatory courses as co-valedictorians, and the fifth is to designate every student with a certain percentage of the top GPA as valedictorian, the report said.

The sixth calls for using options three or four as a basis for selecting valedictorians, but bestow be·stow  
tr.v. be·stowed, be·stow·ing, be·stows
1. To present as a gift or an honor; confer: bestowed high praise on the winners.

2.
 on them a title such as summa cum laude.

The district had used a weighted GPA system until the mid-1980s but changed to an unweighted system based on a 4.0 scale.

The board returned to the weighted GPA system in response to requests made by students at Quartz Hill High School Quartz Hill High School is a public, co-educational high school located in Lancaster, California. Founded in 1964, it is the third oldest comprehensive high school in the Antelope Valley High School District (AVHSD). .

School officials believe the original change was made more than a decade ago to give students - not just those in college-prep classes - an equal chance to become valedictorian or salutatorian sa·lu·ta·to·ri·an  
n.
The student with the second highest academic rank in a class who delivers the salutatory at graduation exercises.

Noun 1.
.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 12, 1999
Words:694
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