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UPSD Considering Option to Scrap Class Rank System
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Upper Perkiomen High School is considering a proposal to eliminate the class rank system. Last month, building administrators discussed the option of eliminating the system for the current ninth-grade class during a school board workshop meeting. Administrators favor the plan, according to Principal Rob Carpenter.

            "The goal of the school is to develop talent," he said during the March 25 meeting, hosted on Zoom. "Ranking students has nothing to do with developing talent."

            Elimination of the class rank would send a message that the district cares about them as students, according to Todd Amsler, an assistant principal at the high school. He said too many students take AP and Honors classes just to increase their rank rather than explore a curriculum of interest.  "We want to help students actualize their interests and achieve personal success," Amsler said.

            The administrator described the validity of a class rank as extremely questionable. Further, he said the desire to earn a higher rank may cause stress for students. Amsler argued that the course curriculum carries more weight than class rank in the college admissions process.

            District administrators presented the board with three options. It could maintain the current system, eliminate it, or revise it to allow for disclosure of a student's rank only when requested by an institute of higher learning to apply for a scholarship - with the consent of the parent - according to Andrea Farina, the district's assistant superintendent. She said that under this option, ranking would not be distributed to students and would not be shared with them or their families.

            The importance of class rank in the college admission process has declined significantly since 2007, according to information provided by Carpenter during his presentation. He told the board that students are separated in rank by minuscule differences in rank average and that the validity of comparing students across school districts through the system is nonexistent.

            Upper Perkiomen currently ranks its students on a weighted system with a 4.0 GPA scale. According to Carpenter, students who earned an A or B in AP and Honors courses get increased weight in the ranking system. He said students can graduate with a 4.5 or 4.6 GPA because of that.

            According to the principal, it is difficult to fairly compare students because they don't all take the same classes from the same teachers. Carpenter said the differences between the 15th ranked student and the 40th are minimal.

            According to Farina, administrators offered their recommendation following a seven-month discussion. She said she wanted to make sure the board members understand all the options.

            "The dialogue on this issue has been pretty lengthy," the assistant superintendent said. "We want to make sure that when we address it, we do it holistically."

            Board President Melanie Cunninghan invited the public to address the issue during the April 19 policy committee meeting. 





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