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updated: 3/16/2017 4:31 PM

Mundelein High may eliminate class rank, valedictorians

Mundelein High may eliminate valedictorians, too

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  • Mundelein High School Class of 2016 valedictorian Kevin Fung speaks during commencement last year. School officials are considering eliminating class rank, valedictorians and salutatorians starting with next year's freshman class.

      Mundelein High School Class of 2016 valedictorian Kevin Fung speaks during commencement last year. School officials are considering eliminating class rank, valedictorians and salutatorians starting with next year's freshman class.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer, 2016

 
 

Mundelein High School officials are considering eliminating class ranks starting with next year's freshmen.

Valedictorian and salutatorian honors -- indicating the students with the best and second-best grade-point averages -- would be eliminated, too.

The school would continue recognizing top-performing graduates with cum laude designations, a practice that's been in place since the 1990s.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, class rank is playing a smaller and smaller role in student selection for colleges. Course rigor, GPA, standardized test scores, essays and other factors are weighed more.

Critics of class rank have said they can hurt the college-admission chances of students who earn good grades but haven't cracked the upper echelon of their graduating classes.

"Rank is now viewed as supplementary, rather than essential, information about a student's core academic record," Mundelein High Superintendent Kevin Myers said.

Stevenson High, Libertyville High, Vernon Hills High, Warren Township High, Lake Forest High and Highland Park High are among the Lake County schools that have dropped class rank.

Elsewhere in the suburbs, the Maine Township high schools, Naperville North High, Naperville Central High, Hoffman Estates High, Buffalo Grove High and Hersey High also have dropped class rank.

Mundelein did away with class rank and the valedictorian and salutatorian honors once before, after the Class of 1995 graduated.

At the time, officials said the move was designed to ease the competitive pressures students feel and prevent some teens from taking less challenging classes solely to ensure higher grade-point averages.

Starting with the Class of 1996, Mundelein recognized top graduates with different honors based on grade-point average: cum laude, magna cum laude or -- at the highest level -- summa cum laude.

The school reinstated valedictorian and salutatorian honors in 2004 but continued the cum laude recognitions.

In 2014, residents asked officials to again investigate eliminating the rank system.

A public discussion of the issue is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the school, 1350 W. Hawley St. The school board could approve the change at its April 18 meeting.

If the board approves the change, current Mundelein High students won't be affected. The Class of 2021 would be the first to graduate without rank, a valedictorian or a salutatorian.

Myers doesn't expect much resistance from future students or their parents.

"I would anticipate most students and families will understand why the change is needed," he said.

• Daily Herald Staff Writer Madhu Krishnamurthy contributed to this report.

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