Should class rank be eliminated in high schools?

Sep 28, 2017

Following the lead of many other schools across the country, the Williamsville School District has decided to end class rankings in all three high schools. Beginning with this year’s freshmen class, the district will not rank students based on their academic performance.

Credit WBFO file photo

Nearly 60 percent of High Schools nationwide have already stopped ranking students, according toeducators in Williamsville.

Educators in the district note that many colleges have placed an increased emphasis on the academic programs and other criteria.

WBFO hit the streets to talk with Western New Yorkers about their views on class ranks.  Most residents interviewed expressed support for eliminating the rankings. Richard Losi said he believes the practice can hurt students’ self-esteem.

“I think it’s nice to be recognized for your accomplishments, but it’s also a little disconcerting to be shown that you’re in the bottom of the class,” he said.

Other opponents of using class rankings argue that the practice can cause undue stress and create unhealthy competition in classrooms.

Local resident Pat McMahon said class rank should not be allowed to have any impact on a student’s future.

“I think too much emphasis is placed on class rank, and often times the margins are so small as to not even be meaningful,” McMahon said.  “I think it’s a shame if a kid’s future is put in jeopardy.”

According to a 2013 survey, the percentage of colleges that consider class rank important during the admissions process dropped from 42 to 13 percent over two decades.

“Overall I feel it’s just a title,” said local resident Carmen Riggs of class rank. “[It] makes kids feel good, like they worked hard. You know, there’s other ways to do that instead of ranking them and putting them into separate categories.”

The Williamsville District conducted an online survey in 2016 that revealed that 68 percent of parents and 69 percent of students favored eliminating class rank.