Class Rank

  • Class Rank Study Committee Recommendations Beginning in January of 2015, the ad hoc Class Rank Committee was formed by Principal Jeremy Schmidt and Area Administrator Eric Taubery. Committee members were selected because of their insightful, varied perspectives and roles within the building. In its entirety, the Class Rank Committee was comprised of:

    • Larry Elliott, Guidance Counselor
    • Stephanie Lesperance, Spanish Teacher
    • Erin Notriano, Social Studies Teacher
    • Tom Oeffling, Area Administrator
    • Jeremy Schmidt, Principal
    • Eric Taubery, Area Administrator
    • Greg Urbaniak, Curriculum Director
    • Katherine Zielinski, Math Teacher

    The committee focused their work with the following six tasks:

    1. Review GCHS current class rank practice
    2. Identify what other area high schools’ current practices are to establish class rank/recognize student academic achievement
    3. Research what types of information post-secondary institutions utilize in the admissions process
    4. Discuss what GCHS wants reflected or represented in establishing class rank/recognizing student academic achievement
    5. Explore various options to calculate class rank/recognize student academic achievement
    6. Make a recommendation of maintaining or changing our current system based on the study

    Recognizing the importance of communicating with all stakeholders, over the course of more than 16 months the committee included additional stakeholders in a variety of ways including:

    • Student feedback was solicited via students in the Principal’s Advisory Council
    • The community was informed via District newsletters
    • The School Board received three Committee reports
    • Sender school principals have been communicated with at Principal Articulation Meetings
    • Certified staff received communication at School Improvement Meetings

    A full and complete report has been archived to document all meetings, findings, and recommendations. The following is a brief synopsis of the committee’s work, research, and recommendations as they relates to the six areas of focus.

    1. Review GCHS current class rank practice.

    A review of Student Handbook information found that “the basic component in computing a student’s rank in class, which is an average of a student’s performance in all completed coursework with the exception of physical education and driver education.” Furthermore, the Academic Top Ten is published by the District each semester by grade level, recognizing students with the ten highest GPA’s. Lastly, the practice of selecting Valedictorian and Salutatorian recognized seniors ranked number one and number two based on GPA after seven semesters.

    1. Identify what other area high schools’ current practices are to establish class rank/recognize student academic achievement.

    Using a variety of surveys and professional organizations, research was conducted by the committee to determine current practices of other area high schools. The findings indicated that the vast majority of northern Illinois high schools do not utilize class rank nor recognize a valedictorian or salutatorian. Within the North Suburban Conference, only Mundelein and Grant utilize a traditional class rank structure. In schools where class rank was not utilized, a variety of student academic recognition structures existed.

    1. Research what types of information post-secondary institutions utilize in the admissions process.

    By utilizing a variety of resources including first-hand interviews with college/university admissions counselors, surveys, and research from other schools reviewing academic recognition practices, the committee was able to gain a solid understanding of the types of information post-secondary institutions utilize in the admissions process. The primary information post-secondary institutions utilize is high school course work, GPA (unweighted), class rank, ACT/SAT composite, and ‘the whole student’. Based on national research, the information that is least informative or necessary is class rank. In fact, no post-secondary institution was discovered to require class rank, and the preponderance of schools use class rank as ancillary information if it is provided by the student. Responses of this nature were uniform from institutions most frequently attended by Grant students and highly selective colleges and universities.

    1. Discuss what GCHS wants reflected or represented in establishing class rank/recognizing student academic achievement.

    After much deliberation and discussion, several questions focused the committee:

    • Does Grant want to continue the course selection ‘games’ that high achieving students become involved in?
    • Is Grant’s current class rank and Valedictorian/Salutatorian practice the best way to recognize student academic achievement?
    • If college/university admissions do not use class rank, why does Grant utilize a class ranking system?
    • Does class rank actually hamper our students’ post-secondary opportunities?
    • Does class rank create unnecessary stress for students?

    The committee ultimately developed a belief statement that guided all other further decisions. The belief statement reads:

    The Class Rank Study Committee believes that Grant Community High School should recognize all students who attain high levels of academic achievement while creating an environment that encourages students to experience the full spectrum of Grant’s curriculum. The Committee believes that this will promote academic achievement throughout high school as well as expand post-secondary opportunities.

    1. Explore various options to calculate class rank/recognize student academic achievement.

    Throughout the committee’s tasks, various options to calculate class rank/recognize student academic achievement were researched. Ultimately, based on the committee’s belief statement options were narrowed to include academic-only models, hybrid models, cum laude systems, and percentile systems. Ultimately, the committee believed that recommending an academic-only model is the most appropriate model for Grant because it supports the committee’s belief statement, has the most clarity of purpose, reflects graduation requirements, mitigates logistical concerns, reduces ‘gaming’, and it compliments existing recognition structures.

    Following that decision, the committee decided that recommending a cum laude system is the most appropriate recommendation for Grant because it:

    • Supports the committee’s belief statement
    • Rewards individual academic performance
    • Cultivates intrinsic motivation
    • Encourages enrollment in the full-spectrum of coursework
    • Fosters student collaboration
    • Reflects university models

    The recommended gradient to use within the cum laude system was determined after looking at several years of real-student data, GPA trends based on course offerings, the number of students included/excluded based on proposed gradients, and the types of coursework required to achieve various levels of recognition.

    1. Make a recommendation of maintaining or changing our current system based on the study.

    The following is a summary of the recommendation the committee made to the School Board on May 19, 2016.

    1. Eliminate class rank beginning with the graduating class of 2021
    2. Eliminate recognition of Valedictorian and Salutatorian beginning with the graduating class of 2021
    3. Eliminate recognition of Academic Top Ten beginning with the graduating class of 2021
    4. Implement Cum Laude academic recognition system beginning with the graduating class of 2021

    4.75 and above Summa Cum Laude
    4.25 – 4.749 Magna Cum Laude
    3.75 – 4.249 Cum Laude

    1. Revise Academic Honors practice to reflect Cum Laude System beginning with the graduating class of 2021.
      1. In Student Handbook and Curriculum Guide, eliminate the Academic Honors section and replace with the following:

    Grade Point Average: Grade points are assigned on a four-point system. Grades for students taking honors and advanced placement courses are computed using the Academic Program Index (A.P.I.) formula.
    A student may transfer a weighted grade to GCHS providing a similar weighted course is offered in our curriculum. 

    Regular Courses:
    A = 4.0 
    B = 3.0 
    C = 2.0 
    D = 1.0 
    F = 0

    Honors Courses: 
    A = 5.04 
    B = 4.03 
    C = 3.02 
    D = 1.0 
    F = 0

    AP Courses
    A = 6.08 
    B = 5.06 
    C = 4.04 
    D = 2.0 
    F = 0

    Physical Education and Driver Education are not given grade points.


    Semester Academic Recognition:
    Student recognition for Honor Roll is announced each semester.
    Calculation for this honor is based upon weighted semester grades. The criteria for this honor is:
    Honor Roll: Students who have earned a minimum of 3.75 for that grading period.

    Graduation Academic Recognition: Graduation Academic Recognition of students is calculated  after seven semesters. Calculation of these honors are based on cumulative grade point average of  weighted grades in all credit bearing classes.

     4.75 and above Summa Cum Laude
     4.25 – 4.749 Magna Cum Laude
     3.75 – 4.249 Cum Laude

    The School Board voted to adopt these recommendations. Based on the abundant research, discussion, deliberations, and beliefs of the Class Rank Study Committee, the committee is confident that this recommendation and adoption by the Board is in the best interest of Grant Community High School and all stakeholders. Moreover, and most importantly, they believe that this change will recognize more students’ achievements, create a more positive learning environment, promote academic discovery, and expand post-secondary opportunities.