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Editorial: time to tank class ranks

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It’s not uncommon to hear students lodging complaints about the education system — whether it’s too standardized, too memory-based, or too subjective. But the worst offense to the equal opportunity and treatment that our education system has relied on is the class ranking system and Frisco ISD should rid itself of this archaic albatross

The class ranking system places each student in a number slot based on students’ cumulative high school GPA from #1 (the highest), all the way down. On first notice, the intent behind this is clear; fostering competition among students helps to improve the average GPA of the school and gives colleges an idea of how a student fared among their peers.

But despite the intent, the negative outcomes of this system heavily outweigh the positives. Firstly, this structure adds an unneeded stress to students and some argue that it reduces students’ wide-ranging efforts and achievements to mere decimal points.

In a recent NBC 5 report, there are an incredible 300 students with GPAs between 4.64 and 4.05 at Plano High School. By simply improving one’s GPA by a couple of tenths, a students’ rank would drastically move up. These minuscule differences cannot possibly be representative of the makeup of a student body.

Moreso, certain classes such as AP & Dual Credit offer various GPA benefits. While this in and of itself is not an issue, students may find themselves taking certain classes that benefit their GPA because of the volatility of the ranking system and shy away from classes that don’t offer these benefits. Most classes at the CTE Center, for example, give students a head-start on their career path but not the small GPA boost that students may need if they want to have a competitive edge with their class rank. This balancing act would be greatly alleviated if the class-ranking system was trashed.

For some students, the whole idea of class rank is enough to cause stress. But for colleges, it may not matter as Plano ISD reports that input from nearly 60 in- and out-of-state colleges and universities indicated there is neither an advantage of disadvantage to a student having a class rank on their application.

Those numbers seem to be a trend across the country as in Tennessee, 77 out of 89 colleges surveyed said class rank would have no impact on student admissions, with test scores and GPAs the top two factors in whether or not a student gets into a given school.

The continued use of class rank by Frisco ISD is a major and inherent flaw that undermines the college application process for students as one could move down the street, be zoned to another Frisco school, and have a vastly different rank with an identical GPA.

There are nine high schools in the district, and while they are separate and distinct, they are not equal in the academic performance of students. This campus traditionally outshines its district counterparts in the number of students that receive National Merit Scholarship honors but yet students are expected to believe that colleges hundreds of miles away will know about this competitive difference and that it won’t affect the decision-making process.

But wouldn’t it be a far better process if we didn’t have that rank on our transcript in the first place? Why is our high school rank relevant when competing with thousands of students from across the country and around the world when a GPA is already used?

These problems are why Plano ISD has announced they are considering removing the class ranking system and will announce a decision soon. Many other school districts across the country have taken similar steps. Frisco ISD should proactively follow Plano’s efforts and send a message that this ranking system is counterproductive and severely flawed.

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The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas
Editorial: time to tank class ranks