In March of 2018, upon the recommendation of the senior Leyden SD 212 High School Administrative team, the Leyden High School Board SD 212, unanimously voted to abolish school student class ranking for the incoming class of 2022 and all subsequent matriculating freshman classes.
Historically at Leyden High Schools class ranking involved assigning each student a number based on how their GPA compares to that of their classmates. They used two different ways to measure class rank.
The two types of class rank: weighted and unweighted. Unweighted class rank determines your rank by using your unweighted GPA. Unweighted GPAs are measured on a scale of 0 to 4.0 and do not take into account the difficulty of your courses. Weighted class rank determines your rank by using your weighted GPA. Weighted GPAs usually range from a scale of 0 to 5.0 and do take the difficulty of your courses into account.
So what did this mean for the ranking?
If the student had taken honors or AP classes, their weighted class rank will likely be better than their unweighted class rank, even if they didn’t receive A’s in all those courses. This is because more challenging courses are given a higher weight (usually a 5.0) when calculating GPAs. For unweighted class rank, a person who takes regular-level classes and receives straight A’s in them will have the same unweighted GPA and class rank as a student who took all honors and AP classes and got straight A’s in them. For unweighted GPAs, every A, no matter how difficult the course, counts as a 4.0.
Leyden High Schools provided both weighted class rank and unweighted class rank for each student’s transcript.
This methodology also provided objective metrics in determining the Salutatorian and Valedictorian for each graduation at East and West Leyden.
Why Is Class Rank Important?
Besides letting students know how they stack up against their classmates, class rank is used for several other reasons.
This recommendation and vote occurred with no public debate or discussion at the public Board of Education meeting. Either the Board of Education had a private illegal discussion in violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act prior to the vote, or they chose not to consider or discuss the implications of such a decision regarding a long standing practice, but simply vote yes as a rubber stamp of the senior administration.
It was somewhat troubling to me (and should be to all of the residents of the District) that the Board of Education would appear to rubber stamp a recommendation of the senior administration without their own public discussion let alone other input any discussion of the affected parties, including but not limited to the faculty, department chairs, and the community in general.
What was even more shocking was that over a month later I mentioned this to several members of the District’s faculty and NO ONE was aware that class rank had been eliminated with the admission of the Class of 2022.
First what was the purpose of class ranking and its long standing presence in the high school education icon:
#1: College Applications
Class rank offers a way for colleges to see how your academic achievements compare to those of your classmates. For example, if you attend a high school that gives very few A’s and you have a transcript with mostly B’s and C’s, this may make your GPA lower than the average applicant’s GPA. However, admissions officers will see by your high class rank that you were one of the best students in your grade, and this will strengthen your application.
Conversely, if you have straight A’s but only took easy classes or went to a high school that gave many A’s, you may have a great GPA but your class rank will not be particularly high because a lot of your classmates received the same grades you did.
Your class rank helps colleges put your GPA into context and gives them more insight into your academic abilities. Some states offer high school students guaranteed admission to state universities if they have a certain class rank. For example, Florida students are guaranteed admission to at least one in-state university if they are in the top 20% of their graduating class.
Some scholarships require applicants to have achieved a certain class rank or percentile (such as top 25% of your class) in order to be applicable. Like colleges, scholarship committees may also use class rank as one criterion to judge a student’s academic abilities, along with GPA and standardized test scores.
#3: High School Honors
Some high schools award honors to graduating seniors who achieved a certain class rank, such as top 10% or 25% of their class. There are also honors for those at the very top of their class rankings. The graduating senior who is ranked #1 in the class is honored as the valedictorian and often gives a speech at graduation. The person ranked #2 is the salutatorian of the class.
Why Do Some Schools No Longer Use Class Rank?
Although class rank has long been used by colleges to help judge students’ academic skills, only about half of US high schools currently provide class rank.
There are several reasons more and more schools have stopped using class rank. Some schools believe that students who just miss important percentiles, like top 10% or 25% of their class, may be unfairly disadvantaged for scholarships and college admissions. For example, a student in the top 11% of their class may have a GPA very similar to a student in the top 9%, but may not receive certain scholarships or college offers because they aren’t in the top 10% of their class.
Some also feel that class rank doesn’t promote teamwork and cooperation because it makes students too competitive with each other as they vie to improve their class rank. Some schools also believe that providing class rank encourages students to take easier classes to boost their ranking, instead of challenging themselves and taking more difficult classes where they may not get an A, but may learn more.
There are also schools that no longer assign a rank to each student, but only provide broad percentiles. These percentiles may divide the class into quarters and show if a particular student is in the top 25, 50, or 75% of her class. This lets you know roughly how well you are doing compared to your classmates, but you won’t know your exact class rank. Some schools also only use percentiles to designate which students are in the top 10% or 15% of their class and don’t provide percentiles for students below that cutoff.
Because fewer high schools are including it on transcripts, many colleges are giving class rank less importance when they review college applications. Instead of using class rank as a critical admissions criteria, some colleges instead focus more other components of a student’s transcript such as GPA or the rigor of the classes taken.
As a student or parent how to find the class rank:
In order to find your class rank, first check your most recent report card or high school transcript. Your class rank should be there, usually near the bottom of the page. You should be able to see what your class rank is and how many people are in your class.
Leyden High Schools currently provides your percentile, as well as indicates whether your ranking is weighted or unweighted (or it may provide both).
Some students worry that if their school doesn’t provide class rank, it will hurt their chances of getting into college. However, this is not true. When a high school doesn’t provide class rank, colleges simply look at other information, such as GPA, high school transcripts, and standardized test scores to judge a student’s academic ability. As mentioned above, because fewer high schools provide class rank, it is becoming less important for college admissions.
What Is a Good Class Rank for your child, grand child, neighbor’s child ?
If you want to attend college, your minimum goal should be to have a class rank that puts you in the upper half of your class. So if you have a class of 500, you’d want your rank to be 249 or higher. You can certainly get into colleges with a lower class rank (especially if you go to a highly competitive high school and/or magnet school), but being in the top half of your class is a good baseline goal to aim for since it shows colleges that you’re an above-average student at your school.
If you want to attend a more competitive college, you should aim to have a class rank that puts you in the top 25% of your class, or the 75th or higher percentile. For Ivy League and other top tier schools, a class rank in the top 10% or 5% is a good goal to aim for.
Remember though, that colleges take many factors into consideration when they look at college applications, and your class rank is just one piece of the puzzle. Having an overall strong application–with high grades, a transcript showing you took difficult classes, strong letters of recommendation, and dedication to extracurriculars–matters much more than just your class rank alone.
Recap: What You Need to Know About Class Rank currently at Leyden High Schools ?
Class rank is a way to compare a student’s grades to those of their classmates. Students are given a number ranking based on their GPA.
Class rank currently at Leyden High Schools are weighted, unweighted, and include percentiles.
Class rank is one criteria colleges use to determine an applicant’s academic abilities.
Some high schools no longer use class rank due to growing concerns that it causes students to take less challenging courses and puts students who are just outside certain
SO WHAT IS NEXT AT LEYDEN HIGH SCHOOLS WITH THE ABOLITION OF CLASS RANK ?
The Class of 2022 has matriculated, but almost a year after the abolition of class ranking for the Class of 2022, the Leyden administration has yet to complete a study and recommend a policy for the Board of Education to adopt to replace class ranking.
The Class of 2022 is fast approaching the end of their Freshman year and they as students do not have a clear expectation as how they are being rated as individuals against their peers.
The entire dialog and planning by the Leyden Administration is going on behind closed doors with no transparency as to what is replacing the “class ranking’ process which was abolished a year ago.
When the Leyden Administration decides on the replacement policy for the “class ranking” the Board of Education of SD 212 will obediently adopt without dialog or input from the faculty, the community or even among themselves publicly at a public meeting the new policy whenever senior administration sees fit to unveil the replacement strategy.
In the meantime the future post high school vocational and/or academic planning of the Class of 2022 and beyond is in limbo.
It is a bit amazing that the Board of Education would abolish a major structure to the metrics of evaluating the high school success of students without considering and reviewing a replacement for such a structure and policy.
It is tantamount to eliminating all speed limits on the highways and roads throughout the State of Illinois, and then spending a year or more studying a replacement strategy without an interim strategy in place.
What was the Board of Education thinking when they eliminated the class ranking without a solid replacement strategy ?
It is interesting that the Administration did not issue any press releases about the abolition of the class ranking and most faculty is still unaware of its elimination as is all of the residents of Leyden Township.
But it has to be a bit embarrassing to admit that you eliminated a foundation in the educational system without a well thought out replacement; so why advertise your folly?