Editorial: Let’s Rethink the Honor Roll System


“The Evil C”, editorial cartoon by Jocelyn Urbina

We all know that one person who excels in every subject but one. They put in time and effort, but it doesn’t make a difference, they still have a C. And that one C blocks their path to Honor Roll. This might even resonate with your own experience.

At the end of every marking period, a list of students who made Honor Roll pops up on the myschoolapp website. Students are honored and rewarded with ice cream sandwiches, which this year were upgraded to IT’s-IT oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwiches.

But one aspect continues to shadow the celebration: Students who meet a minimum 3.0 GPA, but have even one C do not earn Honorable Mention, the entry category for Honor Roll. Students with an even higher GPA – 3.5 or even 3.6 – but with one C do not make it. How can that be?

The answer is that the Honor Roll criteria isn’t actually based on GPA.

Despite the fact that students are told again and again that they can achieve Dean’s List with a 3.8 GPA or Honor Roll with a 3.5 GPA, that isn’t how it works. The actual criteria to make Honor Roll is having all As and Bs. The minimum is all B-, no exceptions.

Some claim that Honor Roll is exclusive for a reason. If schools were to honor Cs, the minimal passing grade, it would be like honoring students merely for participating, and in that case, why not just give awards for attendance! So The Panther editors would like to pose a question: Does Eastside want to honor GPAs, letter grades or the effort that lies behind them?

What about that student who is on track to earn 3 As and 2 Bs, a 3.6 GPA. They stay up until  2 a.m. trying to memorize the citric acid cycle or the unit circle, but still end up with a C in that Bio or math class. That one C brings the GPA in six classes down to 3.3, but that is still well above the minimum 3.0 GPA required for an Honorable Mention. But the behind-the-scenes effort makes no difference: the one C bars them from the honor. It’s as if they are being told, “You tried hard, but not hard enough.”

The Eastside Panther editors recommend a change to the Honor Roll criteria to make it more consistent and flexible: Base it in the GPA, which is how it is generally described, rather than in separate letter grades. Students are under the impression that a 3.0 GPA will qualify for Honorable Mention, why not make that the reality? After all, when they enter an Honor Roll listing on a college application, for example, it’s not as if the explanation is that they earned 3As and 3Bs, they just provide their GPA.

Eastside doesn’t promote cutthroat competition, it promotes success. If anything, honoring Cs may give students an incentive to aim for a C or higher. Honoring C’s wouldn’t taint other student’s success but would reinforce the idea that we are working for a common goal together and supporting each other throughout the process. Let’s make our system of honors align with our values!