By MATTHEW MEYER | Reporter
After months of discussion, Palisades Charter High School has officially moved to phase out annual class rankings that tell students where they placed academically among their peers.
Starting with the class of 2019, Pali High will not release numbered rankings of all seniors. Instead, if they opt-in, students can request that the counseling office include a percentage ranking in their college recommendations—sharing that they placed in the top 5 or top 10 percent, for example.
That stipulation was viewed as a compromise for students concerned that removing a measure of how they placed among classmates could make them less competitive as candidates for college admission.
The new policy will not change the annual tradition of crowning a class valedictorian.
Removing class ranks follows a national trend away from the numeric ratings: The National Association for College Admission Counseling reports that more than half of all high schools no longer report student rankings.
University of California and California State schools do not take class rank into account during the admissions process, but some private and out-of-state schools still do.
Pali High’s Board of Trustees has discussed abolishing rankings amid concerns about stress and unhealthy competition for students.
There were also worries that they fail to accurately represent a student’s level of achievement when taking into account factors like class rigor and the significant number of high achievers at a school like Pali.
Throughout the discussions, parent representative Robert Rene has voiced caution about the college admission implications of doing away with rankings altogether.
In exchanges with NACAC’s president that Rene shared with board members, the admissions official estimated that as many as one third of schools still consider rankings.
Rene said that estimation stands in contrast to input the board has received from Pali’s college center, including a collection of quotes from visiting college representatives compiled and presented by college center staff member Ruth Grubb.
“If the National Association said that there’s still 30 to 40 percent of the schools that look at [class rank], and every one of these quotes is about not liking it, it’s not a random survey,” said Rene.
Grubb said the survey simply reflected what the center is hearing: “There was not one college rep that came to our school that we asked that said categorically, ‘Yes I want class rankings.’”
Though he acknowledged the growing trend against class rank, Rene told the board, he still worried that an “adversarial perspective” to the rankings could leave some of the most competitive students at the school at a disadvantage.
The compromise to offer an opt-in, percentage ranking in college recommendations ultimately brought all sides together, and won plaudits from student liaison Taylor Torgerson, who reported mixed feelings among her peers regarding the metric.
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