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updated: 1/16/2012 5:23 PM

District 207 eliminates class rank for all students

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After going back and forth for months, the Maine Township High School District 207 school board has decided to eliminate class ranking for all students as of the 2012-2013 academic year, district spokesman Dave Beery said.

The school board originally voted last spring to eliminate class ranks at the district's three high schools -- Maine West in Des Plaines, Maine East in Niles and Maine South in Park Ridge -- as well as its Alternative Resource Center and Youth Campus at the beginning of the current school year.

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Students or parents who still wanted a ranking were allowed to opt in to include it as part of the student's transcript at any time during the school year.

Yet in practice, the opt-in provision created problems for students who applied to colleges and universities through the district's common application process, Beery said.

"The common application asked students, 'Does your school assign academic rank?' which meant our students in order to answer that question candidly had to say yes," Beery said.

If the student then chose not to provide the class ranking, it may have hurt the application, he added.

In September, district officials revisited the issue and the school board agreed to calculate and report class rankings for all students for the current academic year.

"But now, it's eliminated for all," Beery said. "Some of our students were being harmed by class rank. In the research that we've done over the last year or so, we really have not found any instances where we think any of our students would have been harmed in the admissions process by not having a class rank. This really will benefit many more of our students."

There has been little resistance from District 207 parents on the decision to drop class ranks, Beery added.

Class ranking and similar distinctions such as valedictorian and salutatorian have fallen by the wayside in many suburban school districts.

Carmel, Barrington, New Trier and Stevenson high schools already have eliminated it, while Northwest Suburban High School District 214, which includes Elk Grove, Rolling Meadows, Prospect, Hersey, Wheeling and Buffalo Grove high schools, plans to eliminate class ranks with the class of 2013. Schaumburg-Palatine High School District 211 is eliminating class rank in a two-phase process and plans to discontinue it completely by the time current sophomores are seniors.

District 207 students interested in pursuing education at Ivy League colleges will still be able to stand out, Beery said.

"One thing that we will continue to do is each school will continue to name Maine scholars that consists of the top 1 percent by (grade-point average)," he said. "So students who really are at the very top of their class in terms of GPA will still have the distinction show on their applications."

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