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Changes to class rank in Plum to begin next year

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Mike Doyle isn't certain of his daughter's academic rank in her sophomore class at Plum High School.

Doyle, who also is the president of Plum Council, said he became alarmed when he found out that beginning with the 2014-15 school year, the practice of class rank is being eliminated in the Plum School District.

“My concern is my daughter is interested in a pre-med school,” Doyle said during a recent education committee meeting.

“If the admissions officer has 500 applications and some have the class rank and some don't, you are creating another step for the admissions officer to have to call (the high school) to find out the information.”

According to the revised policy approved by the Plum School Board in 2012, class rank will be calculated for internal purposes only and will not be placed on student transcripts, nor will they be released to students, parents or institutes of higher education unless in the view of the principal or guidance counselor failure to do so would jeopardize the student's opportunity for a financial scholarship or college acceptance.

High school Principal Ryan Kociela said various factors were considered in the decision.

Kociela said class rank can be misleading because even students with a 4.0 grade-point average could be overshadowed by students who have higher GPAs because of an advanced class schedule.

Also, students were trying to take certain classes to boost their GPAs.

And class rank is used more infrequently by college and university admissions departments as a factor in determining a student's acceptance.

Kociela said other high schools in the area — including Quaker Valley, Mt. Lebanon and Bethel Park — have eliminated class rank.

According to a recent report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, more than half of all high schools no longer report student rankings, according to the College Board.

Most small private and competitive high schools have done away with it because they feel it penalizes many excellent students who are squeezed out of the top 10 percent of the class and then overlooked by elite colleges, the report said.

Although most public high schools still rank students, some now make it optional for students to report their rankings to colleges.

“The purpose is not to hurt our kids,” Kociela said.

“We want to help and put our kids at an advantage. And parents will have access (to class rank).”

Doyle said he is OK with the district's decision about class rank as long as the information is available to parents if they want to know it.

The Plum School District for the 2014-15 school year will eliminate the designation of valedictorian and salutatorian.

Kociela said next year's graduation will feature speeches from the two outstanding seniors in the Class of 2015 rather than has been the tradition for the speeches to be delivered by the valedictorian and salutatorian.

Kociela said members of the student government are putting together criteria for the speeches.

“We will make sure the speeches reflect the dignified ceremony,” Kociela said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753, or

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