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updated: 12/7/2010 9:43 AM

Naperville District 204 ends class rank for students

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By Kristy Kennedy

Saying they needed to do what was best for the most students, Indian Prairie Unit District 204 board members voted unanimously to do away with class rank.

District officials said Monday night they had heard from a handful of parents and students in the running for valedictorian who wanted to keep the class rank system.

"While I agree that this isn't fair to them and is a modification of their expectations, we have a decision to make between being unfair to six people and being unfair to several hundred," said board member Mark Metzger. "It seems to me that is an easy decision to make, particularly when the only injustice being inflicted upon the six is the loss of a title, and we're giving them an alternative title."

The new academic recognition system will follow a Latin honor system based on students' grade point averages. Students with a 4.5 and above will receive a summa cum laude recognition, while those with 4.2-4.49 will receive magna cum laude and those with 4.0-4.19 will receive cum laude. Last year, 14 students would have attained the highest honor.

Board members noted many schools already have done away with class rank about half of schools nationwide. The board discussed the matter over the last few months and received input from students and parents. A big factor in their decision was the recognition that class rank can hurt District 204 students in the college admission process because so many students are high achievers.

Last year, 11 percent of seniors had a GPA of 4.0 or higher. A student could have had straight A's throughout high school but failed to make the top 10 percent of the class. College admission offices can take class rank into consideration, although they usually look at other factors, such as essays, extracurricular activities, ACT scores and GPA.

"I don't feel good about changing the rules somewhere in the process and I don't think any of us do," board President Curt Bradshaw said. "but it does come down to the concept of benefiting more students,"