School Board Moving Closer to Phasing Out Class Rank

School Board Moving Closer to Phasing Out Class Rank

Williamson County Schools will have a first reading of its plan to eliminate class rank by the Class of 2020.

With colleges placing less emphasis on it, the district will have its first reading on Monday, March 27, of the new class rank policy. It will be several more board meetings before the board votes on the policy change.

Instead of ranking students numerically by their GPA, WCS will honor students with high grades. As in college, it will use the Latin superlative system of cum laudemagna cum laude and summa cum laude (‘with praise,’ ‘with great praise’ and ‘with highest praise’) to distinguish students with GPAs higher than 3.75.  Likewise, valedictorian and salutatorian will be chosen based on GPA, AP exam grades and, to qualify for the honor, complete 20 hours of extracurricular community service.

The changes will phase in by ranking only the top ten percent of the classes of 2018 and 2019, so as to recognize those students who have been working with a focus on their rank. Valedictorians and salutatorians will be determined by GPA only until 2020.

“There was universal consensus that this is the right thing to do based on the info we’ve seen and feedback we’ve gotten,” Anne McGraw, vice chairman of the board and 4th District board member. “Class rank has seen its time and it is time to move away from it given the information from the universities [no longer emphasizing it in admissions] and some of the behaviors it is incentivizing among our students.”

The change, by focusing on GPA instead of rank, creates a system the board argues is more equitable across schools with differing class sizes.

“If you have a 4.0 but are ranked in the 50th percentile of your class you will not be penalized,” Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney said, in an example of the possible inequities of class ranking in larger or very high achieving schools.

Latin system:

  • Summa cum laude: 4.25 GPA and above
  • Magna cum laude 4.00-4.24 GPA
  • Cum laude 3.75-3.99 GPA 

Proposed valedictorian and salutatorian criteria:

  • Student must qualify for the highest Latin system honor awarded in the respective school.
  • Student must sit for the AP exam for every course in which enrolled and must achieve a score of 3 or above on 75 percent of AP exams taken.
  • Student will participate in at least 20 hours of community service above and beyond any other community service required by other organizations. Students must provide documentation of the completed community service hours and documentation of the completed community service hours required by other organizations to their counselor.
  • In the event multiple students meet the aforementioned criteria, students’ highest ACT composite scores will be considered.  

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