top of page

Weight Does Not Equal Best

Why the Valedictorian Decision Should Be Based on Unweighted GPA

Photo by Windows on Unsplash

In the ongoing debate over how schools should select their valedictorians, one factor often sparks controversy: weighted vs. unweighted grade point average (GPAs). While weighted GPAs may seem like a fairer representation of a student's academic prowess, the decision should ultimately be weighted in favor of unweighted GPAs.

Unweighted GPAs offer a more equitable evaluation of students' academic achievements. Weighted GPAs factor in the difficulty of courses, which can vary widely between different schools and even within the same school. For example, one school may offer a higher AP class than its competing school. By relying on unweighted GPAs, schools can ensure that all students are judged on an equal playing field, regardless of the educational opportunities available to them.

Unweighted GPAs provide a clearer and more transparent measure of academic performance. Weighted GPAs can be inflated by taking numerous advanced placement or honors courses, regardless of the grades earned in those classes. This can create a skewed perception of a student's academic abilities, as it may prioritize quantity over quality. This can also lead to less creativity among students. When students take higher level classes just because the courses inflate their GPA, there is no route to take courses they want because they are passionate in that subject. For example, if a student has an option between an AP Math class or an honors Art class, that student might take that AP Math class just to inflate their grade even though they are passionate in art. In contrast, unweighted GPAs allow students to take courses they want to, which may influence their achievements in the class.

Furthermore, placing greater emphasis on unweighted GPAs encourages students to pursue a   well-rounded education rather than simply prioritizing weighted courses to boost their GPA. If a student takes too many AP classes, then they might miss a practice, game or club meeting because they have too much on their plate. School is crucial and all students should try hard, but students’ lives should not revolve around it. By rewarding academic excellence across all disciplines, schools can foster a more intellectually curious and engaged student body.

Valedictorian selection based on unweighted GPAs aligns with the principles of fairness and meritocracy. It ensures that the title of valedictorian is awarded to the student who has demonstrated the highest overall academic achievement, rather than the one who has strategically manipulated their course selection to maximize their GPA. This not only honors the hard work and dedication of the top-performing student but also upholds the integrity of the valedictorian title as a true reflection of academic excellence.

Prioritizing unweighted GPAs for valedictorian selection sends a powerful message about the values and priorities of the school community. It emphasizes the importance of academic integrity, intellectual curiosity and a genuine commitment to learning, rather than simply chasing after accolades or rankings. By valuing substance over superficiality, schools can foster a culture of academic excellence that celebrates the intrinsic value of education itself.

The core values and principles that should guide our educational system. By prioritizing unweighted GPAs, schools can ensure that the title of valedictorian is awarded to the student who has truly earned it through their unwavering dedication, academic excellence and genuine love of learning.


Follow us on Instagram

Andy Poll

Get involved with Maclay Andalusian by submitting your work as a guest writer!

bottom of page