Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 19, 2014

Iowa high school to stop listing class rank

Dec 04, 2013

DES MOINES (AP) — A West Des Moines private high school will stop listing students’ class rank, joining many other schools across the country, amid worries the information can hurt students’ chances of enrolling in the university of their choice.

Officials at Dowling Catholic High School say its competitive seniors can fall into the bottom 50 percent of their class if their grade point average is less than 3.56. Officials said it can be a black mark on otherwise impressive transcripts, The Des Moines Register reported.

“That’s where we were getting creamed,” said academic counselor Tom Shively.

“We had quite a number of students who had 3.2 or 3.3 GPAs, with ACT scores of 22, 23, who were being denied by state schools,” he said.

A dozen seniors at the school this fall were denied admission or received a deferred decision from a state university, Shively said. Dowling is joining about two dozen other Iowa high schools in eliminating class rank.

Iowa’s three public universities — The University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa — use a formula for automatic admission from the state’s high schools that includes class rank. But across the country, a student’s ranking has become a smaller part of college admissions.

Nearly a third of high schools across the country don’t report class rank, the newspaper reported. Melissa Clinedinst, assistant director of research for the National Association for College Admission Counseling in Arlington, Va., said the movement was spurred by fears that students in high-performing programs would be penalized when applying to college.

“Things like grades, a student’s curricular choices, test scores — those are really more direct measures of a students’ academic performance and ability,” she said. “Schools that end up dropping class rank often will say that they’re doing so because they are trying to fairly represent their students to colleges.”

Educators at Iowa schools that don’t rank students say they’ve seen benefits.

“We believe that all kids can and will achieve at high levels,” said Linn-Mar Community School District Superintendent Katie Mulholland, who also serves on the Iowa Board of Regents. “And when you get to that point, it seems pretty ridiculous to rank kids that sometimes had a deviation of just one one- hundredth of a point between their GPAs.”

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