Lincoln schools mull replacing class ranking system
Posted 3:16 p.m. Monday
Updated 3:19 p.m. Monday
LINCOLN, Neb. — A committee is recommending schools in Lincoln do away with class rank and replace it with a recognition system of academic achievement based on different ranges of grade-point averages.
The Lincoln Public Schools committee studied class rank for a year before recommending the district get rid of the system and replace it with a system similar to colleges that recognize students for graduating with distinction, the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/2thawuf ) reported.
Jane Stavem, an associate superintendent of instruction at the district, said the suggestion was based on a national trend away from using class rank, the inability to compare one school's rank to another and an unhealthy competition it creates among students.
"There's just an undue level of anxiety and concern around that ranking issue," she said. "It's not that we want to do away with competition or recognition of achievement, but ranking is something that's done differently in every district. ... It's something you need to look at: Does it do what we think it does?"
The National Association for College Admissions Counseling found in 2008 that nearly 40 percent of high schools had either stopped ranking students or refused to give those numbers to colleges. Just 14 percent of colleges assigned "considerable importance" to class rank in 2014, and 16 percent said it was of no importance.
LPS math curriculum specialist Josh Males said that class rank can push high-achieving students to "game the system" to try to raise their rank or demoralize other students.
Lincoln East student Andy Zhu said that putting too much emphasis on class rank took over a good portion of high school career.
"I ended up taking seven (advanced-placement) courses during my junior year," Zhu said. "I was in at least half those classes not because I had a genuine interest in the topics being studied but because it gave me more points toward my rank."
But Zhu said that students driven by competition are unlikely to change just because the ranking system is nixed.
"If anything, there needs to be more education to parents," he said of guardians who overemphasize the importance of class rank.
The Lincoln Board of Education will discuss the issue July 25 and the district is planning to survey a group of parents.