Need for impartial judgement in school awards

Need for impartial judgement in school awards

Every year, Diamond Bar High School’s USB members judge and bestow an award to exemplary students in every grade. While no one doubts that those who receive the award are deserving, reservations remain regarding the considering factors and inherent bias of the student judges in choosing the finalists.

Most school awards judged by students have a bias toward academic overachievers, putting students who excel in school above all else above everyone else. While a person’s academic abilities are certainly important, this overlooks students who put their full attention and energy on their non-academic specialities. These students may not have perfect GPAs,  but academic evaluations don’t account for possible creative or athletic proficiency. 

All individuals have an innate bias toward certain other individuals, so allowing a select group of students to judge and rank their peers is a questionable decision. USB is an extracurricular with students that embody the stereotypical top percent of academically successful students. The definition of success varies from person to person, and for this set group of students who excel academically, their idea those who are deserving of an award recognizing successful peers will stem from this inherent belief, thus emulated through their selection of students.  Although those who excel in school may be capable of more than just cramming for exams, their mastery of the basic content taught in school subjects their classmates to be devalued. 

The problem does not lie with the award itself; the need to categorize and rank one another has its merits.  However, allowing students to rank their peers is a recipe  for disaster. Students who may want to participate but have doubts about their abilities also have to worry about the judgment they may receive from fellow peers should they submit their application.

Those who do go through with submission and don’t get ranked may jump to conclusions, which may cause animosity between groups of students that may not have existed, had the award been considered and officiated by a teacher. 

School award bias isn’t something that can be controlled or managed, but allowing a group of students to grade and class students only makes that partiality worse. If there is anything that students of this age group fear more than anything, it’s the criticism of fellow classmates. 

 In actuality, the award really proves nothing, and the lack of participation is also a result of the award’s infamy among students of being nothing but busy work and a chance for judgement among leadership students and yet another useless accolade with a fancy name.