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Shaler Area officials consider eliminating class rank

| Wednesday, May 30, 2018, 2:54 p.m.

Shaler Area School District is reviewing the possibility of eliminating class rank at Shaler Area High School, according to a letter Superintendent Sean Aiken and Principal Timothy Royall sent parents and posted on the district website May 25.

Shaler Area is considering using a Latin honor system, like those that universities use, to recognize students' academic success. The district would grant the following designations: summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude, based on grade-point average. Another option is for students to wear special medallions or cords during commencement.

The district would implement the changes starting with the Class of 2020.

If the committee recommends revising the class rank policy, the board would vote on the policy June 20. The public may attend the meetings at the Barbara J. Duss Conference Room at the Administrative Offices, 1800 Mt. Royal Blvd., Glenshaw.

The district last revised its class rank policy in July 2017. At that time, the board passed an updated class rank index displaying the updated weighting for College in the High School courses in a cumulative difficulty weight formula. The board also approved an updated grading scale with a plus and minus system for grades two through 12.

The class rank policy currently states: “The board acknowledges the usefulness of computing grade-point averages and class ranking for secondary school graduates to inform students, parents and others of their relative academic placement among their peers under relatively similar circumstances.”

According to the letter, a committee of teachers, administrators and counselors have spent months reviewing the district's existing class rank policy and obtaining information from students, parents and college admissions counselors.

The committee suggests eliminating class rank for the following reasons: It places pressure on students, which impacts their mental health; it disadvantages students taking courses at A.W. Beattie Career Center or Community College of Allegheny County; eliminating class rank won't negatively impact students applying for higher education.

“Class rank creates a competitive environment among peers causing students to lose sight of their personal educational goals and manipulate course selection based on course weight rather than make choices based on areas of passion,” the administrators' letter states.

Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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