At the December 11, 2012, meeting of the Instruction Committee, the School Board began a discussion of possibly eliminating class rank. Two forums will be held for parents to learn more and offer feedback, on Tuesday, January 22, and Monday, February 4, both at 7:00 p.m. at the high school. In the meantime, here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the subject.
Why are we considering changing how we rank students and showing rank in class on our transcripts?
The use of individual class rank has been declining for nearly two decades, according to the State of College Admission report prepared by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Rank is now viewed as supplementary, rather than essential, information about a student’s core academic record, with more colleges using multiple sources and types of information as part of the admissions process. We have also noted a similar trend in area high school districts.
What does this change mean for my student who is applying to college?
Eliminating class rank allows the college application and admission process to focus less on a single number and more on the student’s overall background, experiences, grades, and test scores. This is consistent with colleges’ preference for learning as much information as they can about prospective students. Changing how we rank our students could improve how we work with and assist students in accessing a wider range of post-secondary options.
Will changing how OPRFHS shows rank make it more difficult for my student to apply to college?
We anticipate it would have the opposite effect: Removing class rank could eliminate a prospective barrier to college consideration for some students. Our current system of individual ranking compares students to each other and contributes to the increasingly competitive OPRFHS school environment. In a revised system, academic rigor, standardized test scores that use national norms, and an overall grade point average might provide enough information about the progress and promise of a student in the pursuit of post-high school opportunities. For example, a student with a competitive grade point average and strong standardized test scores might still be ranked near or below the fiftieth percentile of his or her class. That midpoint rank may lead to fewer post-secondary options for that student. We are seeking a reporting system that increases, rather than restricts, post-high school options for students.
What do the guidance counselors think about this kind of change?
We have met with our counselors, the faculty closest to the use and effects of the individual ranking process, to open the discussion of eliminating ranking. Their overall response supports talking about a change to our current system.
How will colleges react to a change like this from the high school?
Rankings provide colleges with useful information. We still would need to provide some information to college admission officers to help them interpret OPRFHS students’ transcripts and progress. We are in the process of determining the best information to provide on behalf of our students.
What are some of the options being discussed?
Some schools provide grade point averages by decile, for instance, publishing the ranges of grade point averages for students in the 91st to 100th percentile, the 81st to 90th percentile, etc. Other schools show highest, lowest, and midpoint grade point averages, and still others show highest, upper quartile, and median points for grade point averages. Whatever option we may choose, we should be sure that it provides a wider range of options for our families and the key information for the colleges that will receive the information.
Will the parents and students be asked for feedback?
We are planning a series of parent, student, and community meetings to share information and seek feedback as we discuss this possible change. Information will be available on the website and through the OPRFHS parent and community groups.