Beginning with the graduating class of 2020 the Millard School district will be implementing a different system of ranking students based on academic achievements.
Many students fall victim to the pressures of achieving a high class rank during their careers in school. The strong desire to acquire a rank in the top tier of classes often results in stress from the quantity of those classes taken, rather than their quality
Millard School Board members voted to implement the Latin Distinction system with a vote of 5-0. Instead of marking students with a number, they will be honored in a category of Latin distinction based on their GPA. Students with a GPA of 4.0 or higher will be honored in summa cum laude, those with a GPA of 3.75 to 3.99 will be honored in magna cum laude, and those with a GPA of 3.5 to 3.74 will be honored in cum laude.
The reasoning behind this change in recognition of honorable class achievements is to better ensure the mental health and wellbeing of the student body.
“The Millard School Board voted to modify the system for the sake of ensuring a fair, equitable way to recognize students for academic excellence without fostering undue stress, pressure, and competition,” Principle Brian Begley said.
The level of academic rigor will certainly be taken into account when calculating the tier of Latin Distinction a student will be classified under. According to Joe Dejka from the Omaha World Herald, students would manipulate the class rank system by taking more classes that are of less quality. The reasoning behind this was to accumulate rank points, and increase their position in the class rank spectrum.
This is what spurred the discussion for a new class rank.
“The new approach resulted from concerns that the three Millard high school principals had about students gaming the system for the sake of boosting their class rank. Among other problems, this game-playing has caused a number of students to focus on quantity of classes taken rather than quality,” Begley said.
Class rank has in some ways become irrelevant when attributed to college applications. According to the Dejka colleges and universities are reevaluating their admissions requirements in order to work with students who do not have the highest of class rank.
It is not only the Millard school district that is reevaluating the common class ranking system. Begley confirms that the Latin Distinction system is being implemented in other school districts around the country.
“It appears to be working well for the school districts that have abolished class rank,” Begley said.
According to the Dejka, class rank is of less importance when compared to other high school factors such as grades in college prep courses, curriculum strength, and ACT/SAT scores. High school carries a lot of weight in a variety of ways when looking at college applications and admissions.
According to Dejka, SAT and ACT scores have risen in importance by 12 percent from 1993 to 2013. These scores exemplify the other aspects in high school that are considered when admitting students into colleges and universities.
Throughout high school students have been categorized with a number and placed on a scale. Some students see this as a positive implementation, while others do not.
“Class rank should not be changed because it takes away from people at the top who go through the extra effort to have a high class rank,” said senior Evan Nebelsick.
Other opinions take a different approach.
“It’s based off of GPA rather than amount of classes you take. It’s a good thing because it is a solid medium for all students to be based off of,” senior Sayde Simpson said.
Controversy is to be expected, but thorough reasoning did go into making this decision.
“We believe the new system will be very effective, and we are leading the other metro school districts in responding to the changing nature of admissions nationwide…” Begley said.
In this day and age, applying for college can be a stressful experience for many students. This new system of rank may just reduce some of the pressure attributed with the process all together.