Sunday, February 5, 2012

Another Reason I Think Class Rank Stinks

As we prepare for this week's school committee vote on the elimination of class rank, I want to share an article that I came across this weekend from the Wall Street Journal regarding a recent study on ranking and the effects that it has on those who function in a system that focuses on rank.   Not surprisingly, "Performance declined for everyone in the implicitly competitive environment," according to the study.

As we think about what is really needed to help our students for whatever path they are on, I feel strongly that we need to set up a culture that focuses on collaboration instead of competition.  Our focus needs to continue to be on challenging our students and getting our students to challenge themselves and push themselves and their thinking. In order to truly do this according to this study, we need to take down the "leaderboard" that have traditionally posted.  

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  1. Patrick - I am intrigued by this whole class rank idea as I have never heard of it. Having taught high school for a number of year's, we often posted marks but they were always anonymous. We had awards and honour roll that ranked kids as a group but never as individuals.

    Does this class rank happen in many schools?

    I love the fact that you and your school are valuing collaboration over competition.

  2. As a middle school teacher, we do not have class rank but do have other competitive things such as honor roll, straight A award, and until recently a perfect attendance award. I still remember sitting in the award assembly a couple years ago as the 8th graders received their straight A award for the three years they were in our Middle School. As the names were being called, a parent of a former student leaned forward and says in my ear, "too bad my son won't be up there because of one stupid B he got in 6th grade." I was the teacher that "gave" that student a B...or rather he earned that B in my class.

    I applaud you for taking steps to bring school back to learning focused and not about gold stars and trophies.

  3. I disagree completely.
    My daughter breaks her back getting the best grades she can. She attends a high school in FL., takes all honor classes and class ranking is very much a motivator with her and her peers.
    For those kids to which it doesn't matter, are the kids who couldn't possibly care less about ranking or school, in general,anyway.
    Why is it now competition is considered such a bad thing?
    Do we want them thinking a good school is just going to be waiting for them or that they are going to have to work for it and compete for that great school?
    Don't think for a minute they don't consider your class ranking.

    Once these kids get into the real world, they have to know what competition is and that really good jobs are worth competing for.

  4. @simplysue I have a question for you: the provinces of BC, Alberta as well as the country of Finland all fare better on educational assessments (ie PISA) than US and none have class rankings and have moved or are moving away from a focus tests and grades.

    I think we need to reflect upon this more deeply and understand tha education is not about training kids to be losers nor is it all about me (rather than we).... It is about helping ALL kids to be learners.