Class rank to end in 2011-12
Graphic will indicate student's GPA relative to their peers'
Starting in the 2011-12 school year, high school students in the Elmbrook School District will no longer be ranked against their peers.
Ending a two-year discussion about the practice of class rank, School Board members Tuesday narrowly approved a plan to phase out traditional ranking and replace it with a new graphic representation of how students compare with the rest of their class.
After a brief round of discussion, the board approved the change in a 4-3 vote.
Called a Grade Point Meter, the graphic is a simple visual representation of how a student's grade-point average compares with those of his or her peers. The new meter will appear alongside class rank starting this September, and then rank will disappear from student report cards and transcripts the following year. Rank will still be computed for institutions that require the data for scholarships.
Graphic allows overlap
The Grade Point Meter, unanimously recommended by the class rank committee, is a number line running from the lowest GPA in a given student's class, denoted as "low," to the highest GPA in the class, denoted by the highest GPA rounded to the nearest tenth. The student's GPA would be plotted on the line, relative to the high and low GPAs, represented by an oval.
Just as with class rank, students will be able to request that the district leave the meter off transcripts sent to colleges and universities.
Creators of the meter have said the design is intended to contextualize student performance for students, parents and colleges and preserve student motivation while discouraging student-to-student comparisons.
Unlike rank, which orders each member of a graduating class from lowest to highest GPA, the meter allows students to overlap, providing a more accurate representation of students' performance relative to their classmates.
Opponents of class rank have said that in a high-performing district like Elmbrook, students with excellent grades get ranked lower than they would in another district, hurting their chances at college admissions.
Some want more research
School Board members Meg Wartman, Glen Allgaier and Gary Jones voted against the plan to replace rank.
Wartman said the board has not fully explored how the move will affect college admissions for Elmbrook graduates. Because of that, swapping standard rank for the GPA meter is an experiment at the expense of current students.
"In my mind, we haven't really identified all the pros and cons of keeping class rank," Wartman said.
"We're dropping it not knowing how well the GPA meter is going to be accepted or used."
Allgaier said that without more research about the impact of the move, he didn't feel comfortable taking class rank away from students and college admissions offices.
Board president Tom Gehl said he had similar reservations, but now believes the meter is the way to go.
"Ultimately, I think this preserves the emphasis on and recognition of excellence, while also speaking to some realities in the student body," he said.
The meter will be put to the test during the 2013-14 school year, when a district committee will measure its impact on student success.
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