MANSFIELD — Superintendent Teresa Murphy announces that the Mansfield Public Schools will be eliminating class rank starting with the Class of 2023, following a vote by the School Committee at their meeting Tuesday, Feb. 11.
The committee was unanimous in their decision, with a 4-0 vote.
Despite class rank being eliminated, the district will continue to determine and recognize a class valedictorian and salutatorian at graduation, and over the next two years will seek to develop new recognition initiatives for top performing students beginning with the Class of 2023.
The decision to eliminate class rank follows more than a year of meetings, discussions, and surveys with parents, staff, the School Committee, the Student Advisory Council and the Principal’s Advisory Council.
The district found that parents generally supported eliminating class rank in order to be aligned with other area schools. Nearly two dozen public school districts and 15 private schools in the area have already eliminated class rank. Parents also desired to continue recognizing and honoring high achieving students.
Additionally, staff members overwhelmingly supported making the change.
The School Committee heard a presentation last month by Mansfield High School Principal Mary Watkins and Mansfield Public Schools Director of Guidance Tina Karidoyanes, asking the committee to consider eliminating the class rank system.
Class rank is calculated based on a student’s weighted GPA; Mansfield High School considers course level, credit earned, and final course grade in determining GPA and, ultimately, final standing in the class. Currently, class rank is initially shared with students in the fall of their sophomore year and is shared every year thereafter.
While the district acknowledges there are benefits to a student knowing his or her class rank, such as possibly motivating them to earn higher grades or being able to put their rank on a transcript for college admission, it outlined numerous reasons for why abolishing the class rank system is the best choice.
The reasons the school district gave not to continue issuing class rank include:
Class rank may promote unhealthy competition between students; eliminating rank will reduce the pressure for some students to constantly compare their performance and grades to their peers, creating a healthier educational environment for all.
For many students, class rank may be used by colleges and universities to eliminate opportunities and funding. Without rank, colleges are forced to take a holistic approach to reviewing a student’s application. A student with a GPA of 4.01 but a rank of 70 in their class may not be given the appropriate consideration because of their rank.
Class rank among top performing students is often statistically insignificant. For example, in 2019, the top 19 Mansfield High School students’ GPAs were less than one tenth of a point apart, and there were 31 students with GPAs of between 4.25 and 4.5 and 74 students with a GPA of more than 4.0 in a class of 327 students.
Eliminating the class rank would encourage students to pursue their interests and try something new or out of their comfort zone, without fear of impacting their rank. Under the current system students may select certain courses solely for the purposes of improving class rank (“strategic course selection”).
“Holistically speaking, colleges are much more interested in how a student reached their maximum potential and what motivated them,” Principal Watkins said. “Knowing how a student handles pressure, how they balance their schoolwork with their personal obligations and how they’ve grown during their high school years is far more valuable information for a college than what an individual rank is at a particular moment in time.”