The race to the top of the class will come to an end starting with next year’s freshman class.
The Loudoun County School Board on Tuesday voted to replace class rankings with the Latin honors system. Starting in 2025, graduates in the top 5% of their class will earn asumma cum laude designation. Those in the top 6-10% will be magna cum laude and 11-20% cum laude. There won’t be valedictorians or salutatorians.
The action follows regional and national trends away from class rankings, which administrators say have a declining impact with college admissions offices. By moving to a tiered system, school division leaders hope toreduce student stress, encourage course exploration, and improve mental health.
The change had been proposed to take effect with next year’s rising juniors, but Atoosa Reaser (Algonkian) won support in a 6-3 vote to push the implementation back to incoming freshmen. The majority of School Board members said high schoolers already are experiencing too much change and uncertainty as classes have moved online during the pandemic and they didn’t want to add more into that mix.
On the dissenting side, Beth Barts (Leesburg), Denise Corbo (At Large) and Harris Mahedavi (Dulles) advocated making the change as soon as practical, noting that class ranks aren’t calculated until students enter their junior years.
Jeff Morse (Dulles) cast the lone vote against making the change from class rankings. He was worried about students who would fall just below a cut line and be grouped into a lower category. And, he said, the Latin honors system likely would do little to reduce stress of students competing to perform at the top of the class.