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FHS looks at an end to class ranks

Six months after a proposal to eliminate class rank reporting at Farmington High School drew complaints from parents and students, class rank appears once again to be on its way out the door.

On Monday, FHS principal Ben Kusch presented the Farmington School Board with a plan to eliminate reporting of class rank unless students specifically ask for it. Under the proposed plan, students could meet with counselors at the end of each trimester to see their rank, and could ask for that rank to be included on their transcript when they apply for college. They could choose to include their rank on some college applications but not on others.

It’s a plan similar to the one Kusch presented last August. But this one came after a series of meetings with a group of parents, teachers and counselors, including some who were critical of the plan the first time around. That group spent months considering options and calling colleges to get their opinions on the importance of class rank. Kusch said the answers they got sometimes varied depending on whether it was a parent, a student or a school administrator who called.

Kusch has said eliminating class rank could encourage students to take more challenging courses. Some students avoid advanced classes in favor of easier courses where they’re more likely to get good grades, he said.

Students who take challenging classes can earn a 3.0 grade point average and still be in the bottom half of their class, Kusch said in August.

“If we know our current practice can present a barrier to certain students, isn’t it worth a conversation” about finding a better way of doing things, Kusch asked Monday. We have all kinds of students who have all kinds of strengths.”

The proposal didn’t sit well with parents and students last August, though. They worried the elimination of class rank reporting could hurt students’ chances of getting into their college of choice. They were also concerned taking away the target of finishing at the top of the class might remove some students’ motivation to work hard.

Suzanne Wharton, a member of the task force who was originally critical of the plan, said Monday the current recommendation was the best option the group could come up with.

“There isn’t really a good solution except for this that accommodates every single person,” she said. “We have to make sure the solution helps the ones we’ve identified who have a problem but doesn’t hurt (others).”

Kusch expects to bring a formal proposal for class rank reporting back to the board in April. In the meantime, the group will continue to meet to figure out what this week’s recommendation means for end-of-year recognition events like the banquet the school holds for students in the top 10 percent of the class.

Those recognition events are not expected to change for this year’s seniors.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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