I read Jake O'Hara's and Britney Davidson's letters regarding class rank with great interest. I agree with Britney that life is competitive and working to achieve high class rank helps to prepare students for real life. As a college adviser, I can also confirm that class rank is very important to some universities.
On the other hand, the St. Charles school district course weighting system that underlies the determination of class rank does discourage students from taking valuable non-honors courses that can be very important to career exploration and from taking a well-rounded curriculum that includes fine arts. In addition, as Jake points out, college-bound students with B averages can be demoralized when they learn these above average grades land them in the bottom half of our competitive pool of St. Charles students.
Perhaps we are focusing on class rank when the real problem is our district's weighted grading system. I suggest that rather than eliminating class rank, we devise a new way to weight grades that rewards students for selecting courses above and beyond what is required for graduation. For example, the district might allow honors-level weighting for the highest level music and arts classes as is done for upper level language classes.
Consider this current scenario: a straight-A honors student who takes two daily study halls is ranked higher than a straight-A honors student who gives up lunch to participate in two classes in our district's esteemed music program because the unweighted music courses lower the student's overall GPA. This just doesn't seem right, does it?
This example from the top of the class occurs throughout our high schools' class ranks, as students who take additional unweighted electives are penalized by the current weighted grading system.
Cynthia B Sullivan, Ph.D.
The College Advisor, LLC