No Rankings for Albemarle County Schools?

Curious – does *not* rewarding kids for achievement disincentivize them from trying harder?

Life is hard and unfair sometimes. Sometimes you’re in the top 10 and sometimes you’re not.

Charlottesville Tomorrow reports:

In response to calls from parents to stop reporting class rankings to college admissions offices, Albemarle County Public Schools is in the process of reviewing its policy.

Currently, Albemarle reports class ranks to colleges and universities in deciles, but many parents feel that doing so paints students below the top 10 percent negatively in the eyes of selective universities.

I wish I’d made time to attend this meeting at WAHS on Wednesday.

There’s a good discussion so far on Facebook. For everyone (and especially those who aren’t on Facebook) I’m embedding the comments from FB here.

Update: Tim Dodson at WAHS’ newspaper The Western Hemisphere reports on last week’s meeting.

Update 2 – Charlottesville Tomorrow has a poll – Should Albemarle County report student rankings to colleges?

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6 Replies to “No Rankings for Albemarle County Schools?”

  1. I agree with all of the great comments above (number system vs letter grades, bigger issues to solve than reporting rankings), but as someone who has suffered by a school going away from societal norms, my fear is how will it affect college recruitment of Albermarle County students. I’m all for a change to the system, but by leading the way in that change, today’s high school students will likely suffer in the early years as they are no longer being reported as top 5% or 10% of their class (which in turn means college’s can’t claim them to their benefit). My college decided they wanted to protest Latin honors… they made that decision my junior year of college. Guess how long it lasted?? Three years. That means I was one of three graduating classes to not be awarded Latin honors. Big deal? Not so much… but as the list of Latin honors graduates grows at my college, I’m forever off that list due to a decision to equalize the graduating class for the sake of not making those beneath the standard feeling left out. So what I’m saying is that I would support this if it was done across a majority of the schools within Virginia — it should be a state decision and not a county one.

  2. Still learning the issue, but my 2 cents is that ranking is absolutely required to give a metric for comparison among “peers.” To put out a sports analogy, its a bit like comparing home run hitters from the 1990s vs one from the 1920s. Ruth was so good because of how far above his peers his was, often out-homering entire teams by himself, whereas in the 1990s, you might have a dozen hitters with 40+ home runs.

    Likewise, each school offers different AP courses and grades on different curves. When I was in school, the max GPA you could receive was a little over a 4.0 as we only had 5 AP courses in total and those were the only ones that were graded on a 5.0 scale. Now, it seems like some schools have half the student population over a 4.0 and some well over a 4.5. Thus, its impossible to say a 4.1 GPA from Monticello is the same as a 4.1 GPA from a school in Indiana or California. Thus, you need the school data to compare the level of the student. A 4.1 student at a school in Albermarle may be one of the best while a 4.1 student from Indiana may be middle of the pack because of the GPA scale.

    Regarding taking “easy A” courses. First, no course should be an easy “A”, if it is, the grading and testing system should be re-evaluated. Second, and more importantly, I fully believe most admission departments are able to determine the difference between a course load of advanced, hard science and math classes vs one filled with more soft courses.

    Plus, if a student tries to “game” the system to preserve GPA, they won’t be prepared for the advance level courses they would be taking at an elite university because they won’t have the background education necessary to form a foundation for those classes. The parents of those kids need to realize that just getting into a “great” school is not enough. They have to be prepared to succeed there and thus need to be challenged in all levels of school up to college. If those higher level classes are too challenging for the student, then very likely, the “elite” college courses will be as well.

    Not every kid is going to get into an Ivy league school That is fine and those kids will be better for it.

  3. It is funny that even the UVa’s own admissions dean who visited WAHS explained that the percentile ranking is quite useless and they do not use it in their decisions – for very good and logical reasons. So, Jim, this is really not an issue for the excelling students at all, as they are reviewed for their entire merit and character, not for how they end up in this silly horse race that you seem to prefer.

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