Upon further review, students in Maine Township High School District 207 will have their class ranks included on their transcripts after all.
The District 207 school board voted unanimously Tuesday night to change its class rank policy just a month after voting to leave students’ class ranks off of transcripts unless the student specifically requested that they be included.
The reason, according to Barbara Dill-Varga, the assistant superintendent for curriculum, is the Common Application, which is used by nearly 500 colleges and universities in the United States.
The Common App, as it is known, is completed online, with sections to be filled out by both the student and the school. One question asks whether the school calculates each student’s class rank; if the answer is yes, the application asks for it 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.
Some school board members weren’t willing to go that far, asking the district to calculate class rank and make it available if students ask for it, and that was reflected in the policy the board passed Aug. 1.
“We’re trying to be both fish and fowl and it doesn’t really work,” she said.
The problem is that the district can’t tell the colleges and universities that use the Common App that it doesn’t calculate class rank when it does, and when some students might choose to have their class rank listed.
“Once one student chose to report class rank to, for example, the University of Iowa, that admissions department would know rank should be available for all Maine students and would request it of students and counselors who might have said it did not exist,” she wrote in a memo to the school board. “Confusion would be rampant and the credibility of the Maines would be jeopardized.”
She asked the board to vote on the new policy without a second reading because students are already working on college applications for next fall.
The new policy approved by the school board also recognizes the existing practice of the district of calculating two separate grade point averages and class ranks for each student, one using weighted grades for honors and Advanced Placement classes and one giving all classes equal weight. The district uses the GPA and class rank that includes the weighted grades to determine academic honors, Dill-Varga said.