Monday, February 6, 2012

A Look At What Colleges Will Receive If We Eliminate Class Rank

gpa distribution on 5.0 scale

When we deliver our college applications to colleges we provide each college with a school profile  which details our course leveling system and curriculum. With our new proposal we would include, on the transcript and profile, a weighted GPA distribution for each particular class (as shown above).

We are not proposing to eliminate all data that we provide colleges and universities. The new system we are proposing will still allow colleges and universities (and students) to compare students against his or her peers. Students will still try and achieve the highest GPA.  Colleges will have a clear picture of the class with the weighted GPA distribution. Competition will still be here, it just won’t be based on a single number attached to a student, it will be based on course rigor.  

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  1. Elimination of class rank is a great idea overall, I think of no downside as long as the colleges are getting what they need (and the parents and students as well).
    The graph, though; wouldn't it make more sense if it started with 0.0 on the left? Then as you look at one bar, the GPA you have in mind is at the correct side of the bar. Currently, if the student has a 3.5, that is on the lower end of the bar's range, but on the left or higher side of the graph's range. Just sayin'.

  2. I want to believe that doing away with Class rank is a good thing but I still do not understand the argument. The argument seems to go like this "Many colleges don't look at class rank but judge the student in other ways" and "Many other high schools don't use class rank anymore", and "colleges look at how Burlington High students have done in the past and use that as part of the process to evaluate potential students". The fact that many colleges do not or no longer look at class rank is not compelling evidence in my view, what about the colleges that do? If colleges rate students by how other Burlington students have done in the past at their school than surely providing them with how the student does relative to other Burlington high school students (i.e., rank) would also be useful. As for the distribution of grades shown above, presenting the college with that information is like saying, my daughter falls between the ages of 10 and 15, rather than saying she is 13 years old. Yes, #11 may be sad that they were not #10, but surely the person falling into top 80th percentile rather than top 90th would feel the same way. One could make an argument to do away with class rank on the basis of the emotional health of our students (although I am not entirely convinced that a student who feels under pressure would be any less pressured by only knowing their decile rather than number). However I have not yet seen on this blog any scientific research on this, other than a citing of an article from the popular media (WSJ), which in turn was citing a journal article that had a sample size of 70. Let's see the research. Surely we would tell our students that their research should cite original sources from peer-reviewed journals.

  3. Even without a class rank the colleges would still see how one student measured up to another, based on the data that would be conveyed - ie: the graph. Based on the class in the example, given the individual GPA, the college would be able to tell if the student were in the top 4, the top 32, etc.
    In my older child's graduating class ('09) there were actually students who "dumbed down" their course choices to achieve a higher GPA, thus increasing their chances of being in the top 20 of the class. Unfortunately, what some of them found was that their "dumbed down" 4.0 in CPI was less appealing than a 3.7 AP/Honors. At the end of the day, your child's, and your goal should be for them to challenge themselves appropriately and get the best grade possible.