Williamsville Central School District

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Class rank eliminated

The Board of Education eliminated class rank in September 2017 beginning with current 9th grade students, members of the graduating class of 2021.  Graduates

The decision came after almost a decade of discussion and research conducted by the school district, which included a survey of parents, students and faculty administered in June 2016. The survey found that most respondents supported the elimination of class rank.

A presentation to the Board of Education in June 2017 provided the survey results and details about the district's research on class rank. View the class rank powerpoint by clicking HERE.

Williamsville recognizes the importance of rigorous, challenging coursework, a diversified learning experience, and the personal and emotional growth of every student. The elimination of class rank does not affect our commitment to these values.  Academic excellence will continue to be recognized and celebrated.

Prior to finalizing the decision, the Board and district officials discussed eliminating class rank during three public sessions - June, August, and September. Links to the meeting videos are available below.  Key considerations:

  • The differences in grade-point averages among high-achieving students are often statistically insignificant - sometimes less than a one-hundredth of a point. Often in Williamsville, a student with a 95% grade point average is not even ranked in the top 25 percent.  Our students may be overlooked for admission to colleges or scholarship consideration due to their rank.
  • Almost 60% of high schools across the country do not rank their students. Research shows the number of colleges that view class rank as an important consideration has dropped significantly. Most colleges have adopted a more holistic approach to the admissions process. Important factors include the rigor of the academic program, GPA, SAT and ACT scores, essay or writing samples, and counselor/teacher recommendations.  When rank is not provided, a student’s application is evaluated based on these factors.  High schools that have eliminated class rank report no adverse effect for their students when it comes to the college admissions process or to the awarding of scholarships.  In fact, the percentage of college admissions officers identifying class rank to be of “considerable importance” in admissions decisions dropped from 26% in 2006 to 14% in 2015, with almost half of those surveyed reporting class rank to be of “limited” to “no importance” (National Association of College Admissions Counseling).
  • Students have reported elevated levels of anxiety and stress related to the positioning that occurs when calculating class rank. Rather than enrolling in courses they’re interested in, some students instead select courses with greater “weighting” strictly because of the class rank calculation. 
While Williamsville is the first district in Western New York to eliminate class rank, schools across the state including nearby Rochester have not used class rank for years.  As a District team, we will be certain to inform our students and parents of any changes to existing processes, such as the selection of graduation speakers.  We look forward to collaborating with our school community to create new traditions to celebrate the many successes of our students.

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