The Evanston Township High School District 202 Board voted 6-1 Monday night to eliminate class ranking at the school and by a 5-2 vote to implement that decision immediately with the Class of 2014.
A dissenting vote on each motion was cast by Scott Rochelle, who advocated maintaining the ranking for the top 10 percent of the class, which Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said had been considered by the administration, but rejected due to the mixed signals it would send to colleges.
It affects the credibility of the school, the superintendent said, when college admissions officers note that some students say the class is ranked, while others say it is not.
“Either you rank or you don’t rank,” he declared.
Rochelle protested that the elimination of this level of competition would be harmful to students who are entering a world where competition is important.
"We're stripping away some tools they're going to need to compete as adults," he said.
Member Mark Metz suggested a compromise position whereby the school would designate any person earning a grade point average above a stated amount to have graduated with distinction.
On the issue of when to make the elimination of class rank effective, Board President Gretchen Livingston, without comment, cast the other dissenting vote along with Rochelle’s.
The original recommendation of the administration was that the move take effect with the Class of 2015, but Baum suggested that if the research indicated that class ranking was harmful to some students in their college quest , then it should not be delayed.
Witherspoon said that since Baum had raised the issue when the administration proposed the move at the June 10 meeting, they reviewed their research and could find no reason to oppose immediate implementation.
The student representative on the board, Russell Fillmore-Brady, asked if it were possible for seniors to change their course selections for next year, in that some had indicated they made those decisions as a strategy for affecting their class rank.
Witherspoon said it is too late to make changes, as the staffing is already in place for the next school year. “If we had to open up any other sections,” he said, “it would cost the school district money.”