After more than seven months of discussion, the Maine Township High School District 207 school board is talking about doing away with class rank after all. If the policy change is approved, it would apply to students at , and for students starting in the class of 2013.
On Dec. 5, the board had a first reading of several policies that will have to be amended because of the elimination of class rankings. The board could have a second reading and vote at its Jan. 9 meeting.
Board member Edward Mueller was the only one to speak against the proposal, reminding other board members that he has opposed the idea all along. Some students, parents and other community members – including former District 207 school board president Jeffrey Bergen, have also communicated their objections to the board, Mueller said.
District 207 Superintendent Ken Wallace said the parents on the Community Advisory Committee who have shared their opinions with him were in favor of eliminating class rank.
The school board began discussing the issue early in 2011, based on a recommendation by administrators, who said including class rank on students’ transcripts hurts more students than it helps when it comes to college admissions.
After some board members and parents objected, the school board decided to split the difference, deciding in August to leave class rank off students’ transcripts unless a student specifically requested that his or her class rank be included.
Just a month later, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Barbara Dill-Varga came back to the school board to ask them to reinstate class rank for this year’s seniors, because the Common Application, which is used by nearly 500 colleges and universities in the United States, asks whether a student’s school calculates a class rank. Because the district had agreed to make class rank available for those who wanted it, the answer would have to be yes, Dill-Varga said, and if the answer was yes, the class rank had to be included.
Last spring, District 207 staff had recommended to the school board that the district stop using class rank at all, which would be in line with the policies for several other school districts in the Chicago area. Including class rank can give colleges a reason to exclude students, Dill-Varga said, but in most cases it won’t help an excellent student.
That’s because some schools might discard an application from a student who wasn’t in the top 25 percent of his or her class, without taking a look at other qualifications or the high level of achievement in District 207 in general, Dill-Varga said. If that same student applied with no class rank, colleges would have to look at him or her on her own merits, without comparing the student to his or her classmates.
Most other north suburban high school districts have already eliminated class rank, according to reports Dill-Varga presented last spring.
The policies that would be changed include one that talks about how class rank is calculated, one about calculating weighted and non-weighted GPAs and one about how Maine Scholars are selected. Maine Scholars – the top 1 percent of their graduating classes -- are honored for their academic achievement at graduation.
Dill-Varga said the district would be able to choose the top 1 percent based on their cumulative GPAs just before graduation without formally creating a class rank.
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