Today is the end of an era.
Walking across the stage at Stabler Arena tonight to accept their diplomas and accolades will be the last valedictorian and salutatorians Parkland School District will name. Starting next year, the school district will eliminate class rank. Instead of picking a valedictorian and salutatorians, will recognize the top 2-3 percent of students at graduation.
The district chose this path after parents, students and faculty complained that class rank can be misleading and hurt students chances of getting into college. In June 2009, the school board voted to eliminate the public reporting of class rank for the Class of 2013 and beyond.
At the time, the district pointed out that 56 percent of Parkland students earn a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and there were students with a 4.0 who ranked below 150 in a class of 800.
Last year’s had grade point averages of 5.0 while the four salutatorians had grade point averages of 4.96, which takes into account that some courses, such as Advanced Placement classes, carry extra weight.
Before making the decision, Parkland School District formed a committee to study the issue. It found that class ranking systems were on the decline. At the time more than 50 percent of high schools had stopped ranking.
In 2009, Parkland officials said in a newsletter: “A major factor that contributed to the committee’s consideration is the fact that Parkland High School is a large school consisting of approximately 3,200 students, but also a competitive one that offers many curriculum choices and a majority of students that earn exemplary grades. Because of the academic environment, the committee does not believe that the public reporting of individual class rank fairly communicates a typical student’s achievements and abilities.”
The committee reportedly looked at the admissions policies of 65 colleges and universities that were popular with Parkland graduates and found only one that would not admit a student unless a class rank was provided.
The district decided to include more information with every college application and transcript to give college admissions offices a better idea of Parkland’s rigorous curriculum, test scores and list of honors and AP courses.
Parkland High School's graduation is tonight at 7 at Stabler Arena.