Board of Education votes to add a revision to policy eliminating class rank; revised policy sent to third reading

By Caitlyn Freeman

The Board of Education (BOE) for Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) voted to add a revision to the already posed amendment to Policy II, the school systems grading policy,  which would eliminate class rank during the meeting of the BOE on Wednesday, May 15th. The revision would allow students after completing seven semesters of high school who qualify for a summa cum laude recognition to apply to be considered for valedictorian or salutatorian.

The members of the BOE  began deliberations on the school system’s grading policy during the April 3rd meeting of the board. The members then voted to send forth a policy change, which would abolish the class rank system starting in the 2021-2022 school year, to public comment for a period of 30 days.

During the second reading of the proposed revision to Policy II on Wednesday,  Josie Urrea, student member and board vice president, presented a revision that would be incorporated with the current amendment which would determine how a valedictorian and salutatorian would be chosen without having class rank. Urrea feels, based on the emails and public input she’s received in regard to the proposed removal of class rank, as though people place more value on the “tradition” of the valedictorian and salutatorian system rather than the implementation of class rank.

She then motioned to add a revision to the posed amendment that would allow students who receive the summa cum laude recognition, which is given to students who have a weighted cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 4.3, to apply to be considered for the valedictorian or salutatorian recognition instead of it being given to the top two students in a graduating class. Eric Grannon, member of the BOE, seconded Urrea’s motion.

The initial proposed version, which was on the AACPS website for 30 days for public comment, would remove the last sentence in section C.7. of Policy II which states “Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, each high school shall annually honor graduating students who qualify for the AACPS cum laude recognition. High Schools shall annually designate a graduating valedictorian and salutatorian.”

Urrea’s motion altered section C.7. by adding subsections “a” and “b,” which states that each high school will be required to select a graduating senior to be valedictorian and salutatorian. The amendment, which Bob Mosier, Chief Communications Officer for the school system, shared with The Pulse, also states that the “character, leadership, scholarship, and service” of the applicants will be considered in the decision.

“I tried to incorporate he pillars of [the National Honor Society], which are service, leadership, scholarship, and character. And so I tired to make a more holistic approach with the application base,” Urrea said in an interview with The Pulse.

If the revised version of Policy II C.7. is passed by the board, Dr. George Arlotto, Superintendent of AACPS, would be in charge of implementing it

“I do not support this process, ” Dr. George Arlotto, Superintended of AACPS, said about the revision. “I cannot envision the amount of subjectivity that would have to go into this process.”

After comment and deliberation from the members of the board, a vote was held and Urrea’s motion was passed 8-1, with Robert Lieb voting against, sending the revised version of Policy II, section C.7. to third reading.