ETHS considers eliminating class rank

Amanda Gilbert

Evanston Township High School’s internal grading committee began exploring the possibility of eliminating class rank, a system already trending with other local schools.

Dr. Peter Bavis, associate principal for teaching and learning at ETHS, said the committee studied how other school districts are approaching class rank at a time when the system is being eliminated in schools across the country. It found ETHS was the only school in the area that continues to use class rank.

“We came to this topic a little late,” Bavis said. “So we are going to learn from what other districts have learned.”

However, Bavis said the committee will not immediately eliminate class rank because it wants to do its own research on ranking’s benefits and detriments within ETHS.

A common assumed benefit is that getting rid of ranking could cut down on the stress students feel in high school, particularly those competing to be in the top 10. Still, Bavis said the school wanted to be careful not “to disadvantage the students by our decision.”

“While schools like New Trier continue to send students to elite colleges without reporting class rank, we don’t know how bigger state schools would react to the decision,” Bavis said. “We want to look at all levels of colleges.”

Jeffery Farson, director of student services at Naperville North High School, said he thinks colleges are indifferent to class rankings. “Many schools don’t rank around here any more, so colleges are becoming more accustomed to not having rankings,” he said. “My school’s decision to eliminate class rankings cast the students in a more favorable light. But that’s our school. Class rank depends on the school and what is best for its students.”

Weinberg freshman Katie Krause attended West Lafayette High School in West Lafayette, Ind., which did not have class ranks. She said she was happy her school did not have a ranking system because students weren’t competing against one other for a specific spot.

“I think it encourages a more healthy atmosphere as far as grades go,” Krause said. “Students weren’t trying to get above the next person. They were just doing the best they could to get good grades.”

Despite her support for the system, Krause said she did not know if eliminating the ranking system was the best choice for ETHS because it is a different school. ETHS has about 3,000 students, almost three times that of West Lafayette High School, according to the schools’ websites.

Bavis said the committee will make a final decision in fall.

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