Kirkwood High School student newspaper

Call Ed: Ranked

After a series of discussions regarding academic pressures among the student body, the administration will recommend to the school board discontinuing the KHS class rank system. With the unhealthy extremes students are sacrificing, 80 percent (74/92) of TKC staff believes KHS should eliminate the of ranking students based on GPA.

September 28, 2018

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Call Ed: Ranked

Sarah Nash

As December arrives, counselors and administrators host an annual meeting at Keating Theater for students to discuss their future. A powerpoint illuminates the auditorium as they reiterate college prerequisites, graduation and GPA requirements to the student body. Each slide brings more tension as questions such as, “What AP classes are you taking?” or “What’s your GPA?” consumes the auditorium. With the heightened pressure to have a GPA greater than 4.0, a new, more competitive mentality takes over and maintaining a flawless transcript becomes an unhealthy competition between student vs. student.

In order to protect the students’ mental health, Dr. Michael Havener, principal, discussed eliminating the class rank system starting with the Class of 2022. In replacement of class rank, Havener said he hopes to implement a Cum Laude system which will still grant students recognition for their academic achievement. Unlike class rank, which individually classifies students, the Cum Laude system recognizes academic achievement in three groups: Summa, which requires a 4.0 and above, Magna, which requires a 3.5 and above and Cum Laude, which requires a 3.0 and above. The new Cum Laude system would still encourage competition but would also allow students to prioritize other interests.

Although the class rank system stimulates competition and self-motivation, it fails to represent the student as a well-rounded individual, but instead as a number. The class rank system also does not portray the exact ranking of each individual in a class. According to Havener, multiple students can maintain the same class rank if they hold the same GPA which only devalues the significance of being ranked number 17 or 74 in a class.

According to Havener, the class rank system no longer benefits students and is not accurate in regards to the college admission process. With increasing expectations to enroll in rigorous courses, students as young as middle schoolers are sacrificing their interests such as orchestra and band in order to raise their GPA. From a young age, students are developing a mentality of taking classes that they should take instead of what they want to take. No person should enroll in classes for the purpose of a number. Especially at the age of 12.

Schools nationwide are also recognizing the ills of the class rank system. At Hilliard City School District in Columbus, Ohio, the school board decided to eliminate the district’s class rank system on July 20, 2018. According to John Bandow, director of secondary curriculum and college partnerships, students at Hilliard City School District taking courses in an area of personal interest, even if it is not on the four-point scale, should not negatively affect GPA. At KHS, students fear pursuing classes of interest for the sake of jeopardizing their class rank.
If KHS were to eliminate the class system, students could actually enroll in classes based on passion and not obligation.

The usage of the class rank system is also decreasing throughout the nation due to unjust process during college admission. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), more than half of the nation’s high schools no longer report class rank. Small private and competitive high schools are eliminating or have already eliminated their class rank systems because it penalizes qualified students who were cut from the top 10 percent of their class. Not only are KHS and Lindbergh High School competitive schools, but they are the only remaining two large public high schools in the St. Louis area who have yet to discontinue their class rank system. Sure, if the system were to still hold significance in today’s college admission process, then high schools should respond by ranking their students in order to meet college prerequisites. However, since colleges no longer require a student to report their class rank, then high school should not encourage such practices.

By eliminating class rank, KHS can lean toward the Cum Laude system that more accurately reflects a student’s achievement throughout their academic career. If KHS were to discontinue the outdated and inaccurate class rank system and adopt a new installation, students could finally prioritize elective classes and paint a true portrait of themselves. Colleges would be able to see a raw and true representation of a student that is not based on a number, but as a person.

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