Class rank stirs different stance


Leah Newhouse

The top three students from class of 2017 are seniors Angela Dong, Xingyu Cheng and Erin Sullivan (Right to left). Sullivan believes that the ranking system makes students have a goal.

Melissa Bushong, Reporter

Each year at SHS  the students with the highest GPA compete for a spot in the top 20. Once the places are officially determined, they become featured on an annual S.T.A.R.S., poster.

According to Guidance Counselor Tricia Bender, the class rank system can have positive and negative effects on students but is becoming utilized less by high schools and less recognized by colleges when accepting students into the school. Some high schools, such as Carmel High School, have done away with class rank all together.

Bender believes that this is due to the fact that class rank has a lack of reflection on students’ real abilities, possibly keeping them from taking the classes that they may actually need.

Junior Par Dim agrees saying that she believes ranking students based on GPA can be discouraging for some students, especially those who do not speak English as a first language.

Dim believes many students, such as herself, are simply trying to make their way through school and do well in classes.

“We learn (in) different methods,” Dim said. “The way we learn from school and the way we learn from teachers and our knowledge (are) different…I have a hard time learning at school, since English is not (my) first language.”

In addition to this, Dim believes class rank can also cause some students to feel compelled to aim for easier courses instead of taking a more difficult class, such as opting for regular pre-cal instead of honors. Something like this could be because students want a higher grade to get a higher GPA.

“There is that added pressure,” Bender said. “I think that we see a lot with our students of trying to be that top rank instead of focusing on the classes they need and the classes that help them for their future they are focused on what number they are compared to their peers.”

Schools, including SHS, seem to be realizing that the ranking system is not always beneficial although it does have some advantageous qualities.

Some people outside of the school board, such as senior valedictorian Erin Sullivan. She believes that the ranking system can give students a goal to reach by working hard and trying their best in school.

However, she does agree with Bender that it can add unnecessary pressure to students when trying to reach that goal of being included in the top 20.

“Some people maybe do not take classes that they necessarily want to take,” Sullivan said. “They just want to do it for their GPA.”

Student ranking can be seen from multiple perspectives, including both positive and negative views. Negative factors often include stress and pressure being put on students, while the positive includes a goal for students to reach for throughout their high school career.

“It really matters more about what you learn but it kind of just motivates students to get better grades,” Sullivan said.

Ranking error causes confusion

This year there were a few mishaps in the making of the top 20 list, which caused dissatisfaction among some students. While the mistake was eventually fixed, students felt strongly enough to act on their feelings.

According to Guidance Director Julie Fierce, students’ GPAs for the class of 2017 were posted prematurely to Skyward. The incorrect data posted led some students to believe that their class rank and GPA was higher than it actually was. This error had some students under the impression that they were in the top 20, when in reality, they were not.  

Rumors were spread, that a returning student was unfairly added to the list, which shifted everyone’s rank below 19, according to an anonymous source. Many seniors, who believed this rumor, expressed hostility toward the alleged student, which the anonymous source believes was unfair.

“In this case, this person is clearly the victim along with the misinformed student who got ‘knocked off’ of the ranking list,” wrote in a text to The Journal. “They both deserve an apology.”

Because of this error, senior Maddie Beck, along with other students, came up with the idea to create a poster to showcase the students ranked 21-40. This additional poster would be a first for SHS.

According to Beck, the idea was not going to become reality, but they eventually decided that it could be fun and somewhat beneficial. The group of students helping with the poster are currently trying to locate those who would be on that list and are ranked from 21- 40.

“Even though you are not in the top top, you still did a good job in graduating, and it is still an accomplishment,” Beck said.