By: Julian Silva-Forbes
Administrators and teachers of Saratoga Springs high school hope to return students’ focus to learning by eliminating class rank, starting with the class of 2022. The decision came after years of discussion by a group of administrators, teachers, students, and parents on the Building Leadership Team.
“Getting rid of class rank will hopefully motivate students to learn for the sake of learning,” according to Physics teacher Ms. Narkiewicz. Teachers and administrators worry that class rank distracts students from what really matters. Science teacher Mr. Robinson hopes that the new system changes the question from “how can I get a better grade?” to “how can I better understand this material?”
Furthermore, for many students, class rank creates unnecessary stress in an already stressful academic setting. School counselor Colleen Grassi said, “I had students whose mental and emotional health was tied to that number.” Top students find themselves competing with their peers instead of focusing on their individual learning. 2021 class president Kai Farr said, “If you don’t get a 100, you’ll freak out, because maybe that means you dropped a place.”
Class enrollment also played a role in the decision. Principal Ms. Tsao worries that students’ motivation for taking AP classes is too focused on the grade that they will receive. Tsao said,” You shouldn’t take AP U.S. History because it’s AP U.S. History, take it if you love history and want to challenge yourself.”
Without the distraction of class rank, administrators hope that students will be better placed in their classes. Grassi said, “I do hope that the student who wouldn’t try AP because they were worried about their rank might try it now.”
This year, the Building Leadership Team’s meetings will focus on alternatives for class rank. Potential options for future classes include a top 5%, top 10%, or other academic tiers.
Outside of academic success, the Building Leadership Team plans to find more opportunities to recognize students for good character, effort, and citizenship. As Tsao said, “It’s not about separating a few from the five hundred, it’s about celebrating the class as a whole.”