Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cum laude - what's it mean?

Recently there was (and still may be) a flap at Woodstock High School (WHS) over a cum laude award that may be stripped from a senior who has a 3.92 GPA. The grading scale at WHS is 4.0, but a complicated averaging system could put a GPA over 4.0 or possibly keep a student who excels from reaching the highest GPA reflective of his or her academic achievements.

The senior at WHS refused to leave class for an optional test (optional, in that it is not a required State test for graduation). That test was the “High Schools that Work” assessment test. Supposedly, he was randomly selected. Did that mean "you, you, and you over there with the 3.92 GPA"?

But what does cum laude mean in general academic circles? It means "with praise". Cum laude is one of the Latin honors for academic achievement, so it doesn't actually or necessarily mean "with honor" or "with honors".

There are several of the Latin honors that are commonly known: cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.

I have disliked the cum laude award at WHS since it was first announced. Why?

Because a student with only a 2.50 GPA can receive it.

Yes, there are other requirements, but the basic academic achievement threshold at WHS is 2.50 GPA. In my opinion, this cheapens the "value" of cum laude award. Out in the "real world", when a professor, college entrance staff or knowledgeable prospective employer hears cum laude, he will think first of academic excellence. Then, when he sees a GPA at or near 2.50, he is likely to think, "What kind of school grants cum laude for a 2.50 GPA?!"

If you hurry, you can still read the May 18th story at After a week the Northwest Herald will archive it, and then it will cost you to view it.

Have D-200 and WHS stepped back from their threats to withhold the cum laude award from Ryne Wiley? If not, will students and parents show up at the School Board meeting on Tuesday, May 25, meeting at 7:00PM? Note that this meeting will be at Woodstock North High School.

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