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posted: 7/9/2010 12:01 AM

District 214 talks pros, cons of class rank

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Class rank may hurt students applying to Illinois schools, but it might help those applying to other East Coast schools, some District 214 school board members said at Thursday's board meeting.

"What about Ivy League schools? I know class rank is huge with them," board member Lenore Bragaw said.

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The Northwest Suburban High School District 214 is talking about cutting class rank, starting with the class of 2014. The board could vote on the issue in August.

Superintendent David Schuler said a student with a B average in District 214 can easily rank in the bottom half of his or her class.

"Admittance rate often increases once class rank is eliminated," he said.

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.

About 45 percent of the high schools in the county no longer track it, said resident Rich Benson, who has a son who will be a senior at Prospect High School.

"Students are ranked when they get into the business world, top to bottom; that's a fact of life," said Benson, who is against cutting rank.

However parent Nancy Conlin is for the change, saying it will encourage kids to take art and music classes.

"We should let a student's GPA stand on its own and let their test scores stand on their own," Conlin said. "Class rank discourages people from taking art classes because they're worried about rank."

Claire Brady, who will be a senior at Rolling Meadows High School in the fall, said the school board shouldn't wait until 2014 to cut class rank.

"There is nothing wrong with being in the minority, if you're part of the trend of the future," she said.

Besides class rank, the District 214 school board also talked 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, said Rosemary Gonzalez-Pinnick, the district's associate superintendent for educational services.

Some teachers proposed adding honors classes to business, music and art subjects, she said.

"We're concerned some students would take those classes simply for the grade weight," Schuler said.

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