Beginning with the graduating Class of 2017, Cassville High School will eliminate its Top 10 honors. Instead, the high school will award students who achieve cum laude honors during their high school careers.
"We are excited about this change, and the staff has been very supportive," said Chris Redmon, Cassville High School principal. "It will open an opportunity for more kids to achieve honors."
According to Redmon, Aurora High School and Monett High School have already eliminated Top 10 honors and implemented a cum laude system to award graduates. The system is called Graduation Awards Work.
"Monett High School does not have valedictorian or salutatorian anymore, but we would like to maintain those honors so we are looking at a hybrid system," said Redmon. "We are hoping to see 30 to 40 kids qualify for graduation honors instead of just 10."
The Cassville School District is currently working on a proposal for the awards criteria. Once the system is in place, students will have the opportunity to quality for cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude honors similar to those awarded by universities.
"We hope to make a decision on the criteria sometime this spring," said Redmon. "Our staff will come up with the initial criteria. Later, we may ask for feedback from some students and parents."
Redmon presented Graduation Awards Work to the Cassville R-4 School Board on Nov. 15. Board members had an opportunity to make comments on a proposal that was also reviewed by high school faculty members.
Both teachers and board members asked Redmon to remove an ACT score component from the awards criteria. The ACT score requirement is used by other local school districts in an effort to improve student scores on the standardized test.
Redmon indicated that he agreed with teachers and board members that the ACT score requirement would not be needed in Cassville High School's graduation awards criteria.
"We want to eliminate the need to beat out another kid or take a certain class even though they don't need or want that class," said Redmon. "We don't want students to not take vocational classes suited to their needs because they are trying to achieve an award."
In addition to eliminating the Top 10, Cassville High School will be converting its 11-point grade point average system back to the four-point system used by most colleges and universities.
"That's just a mathematical thing," said Redmon. "Right now, we have to translate GPAs to the four-point system for colleges. This will really help our counselors out."
Cassville High School will likely offer graduation honor cords in various colors to recognize students who achieve cum laude honors, said Redmon. The school district is also looking at placing different seals on diplomas to recognize honor students.
"We will maintain our weighted course at this point," said Redmon. "Those will still be used to determine our valedictorian and salutatorian."
Under the new system, vocational students who attend the Scott Regional Technology Center in Monett, homeschool students who transfer into the high school during the last four years of their secondary education and students who transfer to Cassville from other districts will be eligible for cum laude honors. Many of those students are not eligible for Top 10 hours at this time.
Redmon said he helped implement the cum laude system at Monroe City High School, where he previously served as principal.
"We had half as many students at that school and we had 14 kids qualify for honors under this system during the first year," said Redmon. "That is four more students achieving honors just in the first year."
Redmon said more information on the Graduation Awards Work honors criteria will be reduced in the spring of 2013.
Parents interested in voicing comments or concerns about the proposed system are encouraged to visit Redmon at the high school office or call 847-3137.