ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Cherry Creek Schools is the latest district to get rid of the of valedictorian designation.
In a letter sent to parents on March 9, the district said in part, "The practices of class rank and Valedictorian status are outdated and inconsistent with what we know and believe." The letter goes on to explain that beginning with the graduating class of 2026, the designation of valedictorian will no longer be used.
The valedictorian title is traditionally given to the student with the highest academic standing among their graduating class.
The district said it's decision was multi-factored, citing inconsistencies among valedictorians across its schools, unnecessary pressure and waning significance in the college admissions process.
The announcement prompted mixed feedback from parents.
"I'm kind of shocked because we've always class ranking," said Tiffany, a parent. "There are kids that put in a little more effort... take on a little more workload, and I don't see anything wrong with giving them a little extra recognition."
Tiffany's daughter will graduate high school the year the change goes into effect.
"I don't understand why they're taking that away from these hard working kids. We've always instilled in our child that you do your best and when you do your best, you get rewarded," Tiffany said.
The district got feedback from Colorado universities before making the decision.
The University of Denver (DU) said class rank and valedictorian status are no longer factors in their admissions process.
"Fist of all, most seniors in high school are applying in the fall of their senior year, maybe early to mid-winter. At that juncture, no one knows who the valedictorians are or who the salutatorians are," said Todd Rinehart, vice chancellor of admissions for DU.
Rinehart said among many academic institutions, class rank is seen as a misleading metric.
"You can have students ranked very highly in their school, but if they take a different curriculum, their grades aren't necessarily the same," he said.
Cherry Creek Schools said they still plan to reward academic achievement through honor roll, special cords at graduation and other awards.
The Boulder Valley School District ended the valedictorian designation in 2007. Colorado Springs School District 11 stopped using the title with the graduating class of 2018.