Ms. Marvel: class rank does more harm


Morgan Kong

In her weekly column, Monday with Ms. Marvel, Wingspan’s Trisha Dasgupta reviews different political issues and relatable topics in everyday life.

Trisha Dasgupta, Editor-in-Chief

I remember sitting on the floor of a hotel room in Austin my freshman year while out on my first weekend trip for Youth and Government, crying because I had just received the first transcript of my high school career and was worried about whether or not I had made it into the top ten percent of my graduating class. 

Class rank hadn’t even come out yet, just GPAs, and still, the mere sight of the number made me so anxious I remember feeling like I was about to throw up. My friends and I had been looking forward to the trip to Austin for months, and that Friday was overshadowed by our overwhelming anxiety at the thought of class rank. 

This is more than a common experience- it’s become an integral part of most student’s academic careers. Class rankings have become a toxic stress inducer for students, and it’s time to reevaluate whether or not the benefits of ranking students outweigh the very real stress and harm it brings into students’ lives. 

Ranking students seem like a great way to reward those who work hard to maintain a high GPA, however, nowadays it’s become a punishment for those who fall slightly under the cut-off. Students have become so competitive that the GPA between ranks is often less than .01 away from each other. That means that a student could be .01 or less away from making the cut-off for the top 10 percent. 

There really is no difference between GPAs that are .01 points apart. That’s one quiz, one lab report, maybe even one homework assignment. What is the merit in ranking students like this if the GPAs are this close? Is the student who has the .01 lower GPA less smart than the student who has the “higher” GPA? Are they working any less hard? 

Furthermore, it isn’t like every student has a similar schedule or the same classes. A student in the Independent Study and Mentorship program has to do just as much work as a student in another AP class, however, due to the fact that ISM is weighted on a 5.5 scale, their GPA might be lower. A student in a rigorous CTE course for computer science or health science could have a lower GPA just because of the way CTE courses are weighed. Two students in the same exact AP course could have two different teachers who grade incredibly differently, and they could still have different scores despite putting in the same amount of effort. 

If grades are coming down to a fraction of a point, it’s time to consider if there is any worth in ranking students. Schools can remain competitive without employing class rankings. Frisco ISD took a great step in 2018 when they decided to only publish the ranks of the top 10 percent of each class. There’s not much they can do to get rid of ranks altogether given that most public universities in Texas accept students in the top 10 percent for auto admissions. Rank is something that affects students all over the state, and it’s time to get rid of the idea that class rankings are a viable way to determine whether or not a student deserves a place in University.