Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools seek to remove class rank from transcripts

jalexander@newsobserver.comNovember 22, 2013 

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— Located at the top of North Carolina high school students’ transcripts is their class rank, a measure of a student’s performance compared to other students in his or her class.

Class rank is a state mandate, but Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School officials plan to pursue legislation to see that it becomes a local option. Superintendent Tom Forcella said the district no longer wants to include it on local transcripts because students are putting too much emphasis on achieving the highest rank.

“What came to our attention from students and parents were students were being negatively impacted by class rank,” Forcella said. “They were taking courses just to raise their class rank.”

He said instead of these students following their passion, whether it be music or sports, some were taking extra Advanced Placement courses in order to boost their GPAs.

Jotham White, an 11th-grade student at Chapel Hill High School, agreed.

“I would say that class rank does put stress on students because it makes it so students will want take more honors and AP classes because they want to get better than a 4.0 (GPA), to get into a good college,” White said. “When they take more honors and A.P., it puts stress on the student because they have more homework, and they don’t have time for other stuff like extracurricular activities.”

Alexis Parvey, also an 11th-grade student at Chapel Hill High, did not agree. She said she thinks schools should keep class rank.

“It pushes you to work harder,” Parvey said. “If you don’t want to be a part of class rank you don’t want to try as hard, but for the students who work their butts off all school year long, all four years of high school, they deserve to be high up on the class rank.”

Gabby Dimete, a ninth-grade student at East Chapel Hill High, echoed Parvey’s sentiments.

“I’m very competitive in whatever I do, and school is one of my most competitive areas,” Dimete said. “I believe that if I am doing well, I should be recognized for that, and (class rank) helps me to be on top of things.”

Receiving an “A” in an A.P. course adds one more “Quality Point” than receiving an “A” in a Honors course, and two more Quality Points that receiving an “A” in a regular course. A straight-A student who takes A.P. courses could ultimately receive a 5.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

Forcella pointed out that 40 percent of the highest-achieving high schools in the nation do not include class rank. However, it is a requirement in North Carolina. He also said that after speaking with schools in the UNC system, most universities don’t require class rank to be on a transcript.

“Our hope is that if we have the local option and not have class rank, then each school in the state can do as they please, but at least at our district we feel it will decrease the stress that many students are under right now,” Forcella said.

Forcella asked the board for a resolution to class rank to make it a local decision. The board agreed.

Forcella said the next step is to approach a state representative to sponsor a bill.

Alexander: 919-932-2008; Twitter: @jonmalexander1

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