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posted: 7/8/2010 12:01 AM

District 214 talks about cutting class rank

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Following a trend in many competitive high schools across the country, District 214 will talk about eliminating class rank at tonight's board meeting.

The reason is simple: class rank often hurts students, not helps them, on college and scholarship applications. That's why 45 percent of the high schools in the county no longer track it.

For example, a student with a B average in District 214 can easily rank in the bottom half of his or her class, said Rosemary Gonzalez-Pinnick, the district's associate superintendent for educational services.

"We checked with the five colleges that accept most of our students to see if this change would negatively impact students when they apply and it turns out it would not," Gonzalez-Pinnick said.

District 214 Board President Bill Dussling agrees with the change.

"Class rank puts pressure on the students and maybe even on parents," Dussling said. "Colleges are really looking at a student's GPA and what honors and AP classes that student has taken and not class rank."

If the school board decides to proceed with the change, a vote could come as early as Aug. 5. The new ranking system would start with the graduating class of 2014.

A few years ago, Stevenson High School eliminated class rank for the same reason and also ended the tradition of naming a valedictorian and salutatorian. But other districts, such as Palatine-Schaumburg Township High School District 211, still see value in class rank.

"We know colleges put a lot of weight on GPA and test scores and that maybe class rank doesn't hold the weight it used to, but it's still alive and well in 211," said District 211 spokesman Tom Petersen. "There's been no discussion about eliminating it at this point."

Besides class rank, the District 214 school board also will talk about making some changes to their course grade weight system. Currently, an A doesn't mean the same thing in all classes. Advanced placement classes grades are ranked on a 6.0 scale, compared to honors classes on a 5.5 scale and regular classes on a 5.0 scale. If approved, honors classes would be limited to core academic area courses, including foreign languages. Advanced placement classes wouldn't be affected, Gonzalez-Pinnick said.

The school board meeting begins at 7 p.m. tonight at the Forest View Educational Center, 2121 S. Goebbert Road in Arlington Heights.