Lyons Township High School

A proposal to eliminate class rankings is being considered at Lyons Township High School. (Wes Venteicher, Chicago Tribune / January 24, 2014)

A Lyons Township High School District 204 task force is weighing the value of class rankings after a community council suggested eliminating them.

The district's Community Advisory Council submitted concerns about how rankings affect college admissions, class selection and student performance at a District 204 Board meeting Jan. 21.

"(Class rank) hurts more students than it helps," a summary of the group's findings reads. "There are students who do very well at LTHS and are not recognized for their accomplishments."

A district task force is weighing the council's input along with other research and concerns in order to offer a recommendation to the board this spring, Lyons Curriculum and Instruction Director Scott Eggerding said

The school's large student population, combined with its high average GPA, means class rankings can skew some good students' achievements, Eggerding said. Classes average about 1,000 students, he pointed out.

"If you're ranked 300th, that's in the top third," he said. "But anyone who says (on college applications) I'm in the top 300, it's a big number."

The average GPA at the school is 2.93, or just about a B average, he said. When the extra weight given for honors and accelerated courses is factored in, the average GPA rises to 3.27, he said. Consequently, a student with a 4.0 weighted GPA might rank around 200th in the class.

But he emphasized the task force is still investigating, and will contact colleges and conduct student surveys in coming months. The task force could recommend eliminating class rank, phasing in changes or keeping things as they are, he said. Any changes wouldn't likely go into effect this fall, he said.

The district began taking a serious look at class rankings after a raft of other schools in the Chicago area jettisoned the rankings. Hinsdale's high schools have dropped them, along with schools in Wheaton, Arlington Heights, Lake Zurich, Naperville, Deerfield, Highland Park and elsewhere .

The council expressed concern about how class rank affects students' chances of getting into highly selective colleges, which is something the task force is looking into, Eggerding said.

"Class rank is being used less and less of an indicator for college acceptance than it used to," he noted.

Colleges give more weight to admission test scores, grades, entrance essays and demonstrated interest in the college than they do to class rank, he said, citing the National Association For College Admission Counseling.

The advisory council, which is made up of about 60 parents, students, teachers and community members, urged haste.

"Do not deliberate too long on this," the council's memo reads. "We have been talking about this for years; it's time to take action."

wjventeicher@tribune.com
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