Staff Editorial: SLHS Should Bring Back Class Rank

The 2018-19 school year is the first year that Southern Lehigh High School hasn’t recognized class rank, or a valedictorian and salutatorian — the students ranked number one and number two in the class, respectively. All of these ranks and recognitions are based on GPA, which cumulatively weights each student’s coursework.

Before this year, the valedictorian and the salutatorian were named at the end of the fourth quarter, and recognized at graduation and where they presented a speech. As current seniors near the end of the school year, many have questioned how the class of 2019 would have been affected by class rank. On scholarship and college applications, seniors have been repeatedly asked for their rank, which leads them to question whether class rank would have helped them or hurt them.

There are benefits to having class rank. The first that comes to mind is healthy competition. By knowing where you stand amongst your peers, you may feel more motivated to perform better. This is especially true if you are close to achieving a notable ranking, such as top 10% or top 50%. This may result in students studying harder.

GPA can tell colleges about how students perform, but this may mean very little without context. Class rank tells colleges how students perform in relation to their peers, which means that the admissions process will be more equitable for Southern Lehigh students if class rank is provided. A 4.0 at one school may be way more difficult to achieve than it would be at another school due to grade inflation or deflation. Class rank can provide another component of the application process that shows how competitive an applicant is.

Now that college decisions are practically over, releasing the class rank would not affect a student’s chance in the admissions process. The top members of the senior class have worked incredibly hard to obtain the grades that they have, and releasing class rank would serve as a way to reward these students for their work throughout high school.

One of the drawbacks to having class rank is that it unfairly gives preference to students who are not taking co-curricular elective courses, such as yearbook and band. If a student’s GPA is over 4.0, these elective courses would actually bring it down because they can only be weighted as a 4.0 at most. If the administration has concerns about “penalizing” students who take these classes, they can recalculate GPA with core classes only. This would make the process more fair.

Class rank would benefit the majority of Southern Lehigh’s college applicants by providing more information about their background and how they performed within the context of our school. It isn’t too late to restart calculating GPA for future classes.