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Dist. 101 board weighs class-rank options

Changes won’t impact seniors, but future classes may see new approach

Published: Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 7:17 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 7:16 p.m. CDT

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Morris Community High School District 101 will not change its class-rank system for the current seniors, but future classes may see some alterations.

Last month the school board asked Principal Kelly Hussey to research some solutions for the glitches with the district's weighted-grade system. At Monday's regular meeting, Hussey and the board discussed this further.

With the transition from a four-block schedule to a traditional seven-period day last year, some upper classmen’s four-year plans were altered due to class options changing, which meant their grade-point average (GPA) potentials could change. As a result, their chances at becoming valedictorian or salutatorian changed as well.

Current freshmen and sophomores have been able to accommodate their four-year plans despite the class schedule change, but the seven-period day and the weighted grading scale still causes a hiccup with the GPA potentials.

Currently, upper classmen with a goal of becoming valedictorian are sometimes better off taking a study hall rather than an actual class for the seventh period of their day. Taking a study hall ensures their GPA total, whereas getting a weighted grade in another course could change it in their last year of school.

The board is concerned with students being able to manipulate the system to better their GPA. Rather than encourage that, they asked Hussey if it was possible to make a seventh class pass/fail so it wouldn't impact their GPA.

On Monday, Hussey recommended not changing this for the current seniors because it would not be fair to change the rules in their last semester, and the board agreed.

He then explained that if they start doing this for the current juniors, it is difficult to decide which of their classes receives a "P" for pass, rather than an "A." If the school chooses to give a pass in a music elective, for example, it could be harmful for a student applying for colleges with the hope of majoring in music. And if you do it for one of their honors courses, the "A" that could be a "P" now may not translate on their transcripts.

"I'm feeling pressure to ask individual families what they want me to do," Hussey said.

The board discussed possibly "grandfathering" in the current freshmen, sophomores and juniors, which would mean leaving the weighted-system until the next incoming freshman start.

The possibility for the next freshman class and on is to eliminate class ranking completely so the concentration wouldn't be on becoming valedictorian, but on choosing the best classes for their future.

"Many colleges don't want to know the weighted grade," board member Karen Meucci said. "They're more concerned with: Did you take honors classes? Did you take a language?"

"I would like to know what it would look like if we do away with it," she continued.

Hussey said Thursday he had already heard back from two institutions that said class rank would have no merit to them when looking at Morris High School students.

According to his research, the National Association for College Admission Counseling states more than half of all high schools no longer report student rankings. According to a 2006 survey by the NACAC, only 23.1 percent of colleges give class rank "considerable importance" in their admission decisions. But 75.9 percent look at their grades in college-prep courses.

Hussey will bring back more feedback to the board from other colleges next month.

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