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Class Rank Still has a Place in Modern High Schools

Reese Levine, Staff Writer
March 9, 2012

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According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, over half of American high schools no longer rank their students. This is just the continuation of a trend that has many administrators skeptically viewing class rank as outdated. Even though there are great disparities in the quality of education in schools around the country, class rank should still be included at public high schools such as Miramonte.

Admittedly, there are certain schools where class rank may not be such a good idea. A student who may be ranked at the top of the class at a large public institution could even be outside the top 10 percent at a small, private school. School size plays a large part in determining a class rank, as does the economic and geographical area. Also, grading standards and curriculum difficulty fluctuate from school to school.

But even considering these arguments, class rank does still have some significance as a measure of a student’s drive and determination by showing how they compare to their peers. All students who have grown up together and attended the same schools have had comparable opportunity to learn, and their class rank reflects this. This is not to say that students who attend schools with less opportunities to learn are not as smart; it is just that they are making do with the resources available.

One of the major reasons many high schools no longer report class rank is that they are afraid it will harm their students’ chances of getting into college.

However, this forces colleges to put more weight on standardized tests such as the SATs or ACTs. Now, instead of students getting in based on their aggregate performance over all four years of high school, it is based on a few hours on a Saturday morning.

While many colleges are now playing down their focus on class rank, larger colleges do still use it to sort through the high volume of applications. According to a 2009 study at Princeton University, class rank is a better predictor of success in college than test scores.

In fact, the study showed that a high class rank could make up for up to a 200-point deficit in test scores, because class rank “captures individual motivation and effort.”

Some schools, such as any military academy, require applicants to report class rank with their application. For these students, Miramonte is able to calculate their class rank. It would take only a little longer to compile class rank for all students. Then, it would be up to the student to decide whether to report their class rank to colleges that don’t require it. In either case, class rank would help a student gauge their performance compared to those around them.

Today, when getting into college is so important, anything that can give you an edge is raised in importance, while anything that could drag you down is discarded. Although class rank is viewed unfavorably, it is still an important part of high school.

People are continually ranked as adults, from how much money they make to their productivity in their jobs, and there is no reason why high school students, who are being preparing for adult life, should be treated different.

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