The End of Class Rank

Class Rank, Ranking HS Students, Ranking High School Grads

There is a good piece on the gradual decline of class rank across America in “The Washington Post” this week.

Is the end of class rank near? We’ve written previously about how more and more schools are choosing not to rank students. It’s been a slow, gradual process, a process that’s come on the heels of the slow and gradual process of high schools moving away from having valedictorians and salutatorians. But, after all of these years, high schools are finally starting to get it. And, we do mean “get it.” Because for all of these years, high schools have been hurting their students. They’ve been hurting their students’ chances for admission to highly selective colleges. They’re pitting one of their students against another of their students. They’re pitting each of their students against each other.

As an article by Moriah Balingit on class rank in “The Washington Post” points out, “School officials said they want students to focus on their own accomplishments without worrying so much where they fall in the pecking order. And with the proliferation of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses — which can boost a student’s grade-point average above a 4.0 — emphasizing rank could push students to overload themselves during their high school years…College admissions officers said they have seen a steep drop-off in the number of applicants who come from schools that rank students.”

The fact is that the Ivy League colleges — and many highly selective colleges — want high schools to rank their students. Indeed class rank is a part of the Ivy League’s Academic Index. But when a high school doesn’t rank its students, the Ivy League colleges simply use a number corresponding to the student’s GPA instead. So just because colleges want high schools to rank doesn’t mean they have to. It doesn’t mean they should. In fact, their students would be better served if they didn’t rank. We know of high schools in which every student who has a 4.0 GPA or higher is considered a valedictorian. One is even cited in the article in “The Washington Post.” That’s some good civil disobedience if you ask us!

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