SHS Class of 2020 last to have Top 10, class rankings

Latin Honors System planned instead

Starting next school year, class ranking and, subsequently, Top 10 will be abolished at Streetsboro High School. The Class of 2020 would be the last class to have these accomplishments calculated and recognized at graduation.

Some students and staff are all for class rank being abolished due to its supposed meaninglessness and purely traditional manner. In contrast, many argue that it is unfair to academically successful students to get rid of it. Class rank was designed to be a comparative measure of student performance. However, over the years the measure has become increasingly inaccurate due to weighted classes, including honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes, and, especially, College Credit Plus (CCP). This affects all current and future students who will graduate from SHS. Streetsboro’s decision to do away with class rank follows that of other schools in northeast Ohio, such as Hudson, Aurora and Kent. 

Rankings have been falling out of favor all across the country for the past few years. Grades, academic rigor, extracurriculars and raw scores such as ACT and SAT scores matter most in the college admission process. Ranks are only the ninth most important factor out of 16 criteria that colleges look at.

SHS English teacher Molly Klodor said class rank does not really matter to colleges. “They care about the Top 10% or the Top 15% of the class,” Klodor said. “But, that’s not the same as class rank.”

The issue with ranking seems to be “the competition for these minuscule, tiny, little differences and points isn’t equating to learning,” Klodor said. “…

Pullquote Photo

So a student might choose not to take art, despite the fact they love art and are really good at art…They’re choosing not take art because it doesn’t help their class rank…There are lots of opportunities for students that get dropped because they don’t want to ‘ruin’ — in their opinion — their class rank.

— English Teacher Molly Klodor


In terms of competition, dropping class rank only lowers the competitive edge a little bit, seeing as GPA will still be recognized at graduation via the Latin Honors System, allowing students the opportunity to focus on their own accomplishments and pushing themselves to achieve their best, rather than beating out their peers. In the Latin Honors System there are three categories: Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude. Similarly to other districts, Streetsboro plans on recognizing those with a 4.0 or above as Summa Cum Laude, those with a 3.75 – 3.999 as Magna Cum Laude, and those with a 3.5 – 3.749 as Cum Laude. All students will be placed or not placed into one of the following categories based upon their weighted GPA.

Principal James Hogue said College Credit Plus is the culprit behind the change. “In recent years, in the state of Ohio — but in other states, too — systems have been put in place, laws have been passed, that mandate the weighting of grades…” Hogue said. “All of our College Credit Plus grades are weighted and the rigor of those classes is — varies, from, I would say, 10th-grade-regular-education rigor all the way up to college-level rigor — and there’s no way for us to know which is more rigorous than the other. But the other thing is, it doesn’t matter if we know because all of those grades are weighted.” 

In order to ensure more fairness in the weighted system, SHS must offer a feasible amount of weighted classes in tits own facilities, to combat the amount of weighted classes offered at Kent State University. Regulating what is being taught and assigned, and how harshly assignments are being graded within SHS’ building is far more doable than attempting to mandate the rigor of the classes within KSU’s facilities. Thus, Hogue has made it a goal to bring more AP classes to SHS. Currently, there are seven: AP Biology, AP Psychology, AP English Literature, AP Statistics, AP Calculus, AP U.S. History, and AP U.S. Government. In the near future, Hogue said, he hopes to have a total of 10-12 AP classes. 

Guidance counselor Ira Campbell said weight is not the only problem; grades are not always the best way to measure student performance, either. They can be inaccurate, regardless of how hard a teacher is trying to be objective. Not to mention, the variability among GPAs in the Top 10 is minimal at best.

“There’s still a small level of subjectivity with the grades…” Campbell said. “The difference between someone who’s [number 10 in the class] and someone who’s 11 could be, ya know, a thousandth of a decimal point… If you really analyze that, or break that down — if you look at the grades on a transcript — I mean, it could come down to the difference between, ya know, an A- and a B+ in an algebra class a student took in eighth grade.”

Although Streetsboro High School rounds students’ GPAs to four decimal places, a slight possibility of a tie remains for valedictorian, salutatorian or any other ranking.

Surprisingly, some aspects of SHS’ recognition protocol at graduation remain unchanged. Hogue and Campbell clarified that valedictorian and salutatorian may still be recognized — even sit on stage — but the remaining eight in the Top 10 will not be named.

Additionally, all Summa Cum Laude graduates will be eligible to speak at graduation. They will write a speech, audition in the auditorium, then a panel of teachers — and maybe students — will vote on the best two to be read at graduation. 

Of course, those most affected by the change are the students themselves. Junior Brooke Tacsar said she feels very strongly about keeping the rankings “because you worked so hard for it your four years.”

Tacsar claimed the change is due to students feeling unworthy when they did not make the Top 10, in addition to parents’ complaints. “I can see some students not caring at all [about qualifying for Top 10] because they know that those students worked for it,” Tacsar said. “But I can also see that if you were, maybe, 11th and you didn’t get it, I can understand being upset about that.”

Although many administrators believe Latin Honors is the way to go in order to be more inclusive, students like Tacsar are not entirely on board. “I prefer the old system that we have,” she said.

In addition, senior Zach Naymik, who is seventh in the Class of 2020, said he firmly believes in acknowledging student accomplishments through the competitiveness of class rankings. However, unlike Tacsar, he seems to be fine with moving to the Latin Honors System.

“I’m okay with that as well…” Naymik said. “It opens the door to having more people than just those Top set 10, so I would not be against moving to the Latin recognizement system.”

Naymik said from what he has overheard, most other students would not be opposed to switching to the Latin Honors System, but would strongly oppose having a complete lack of recognition at graduation.

Lastly, sophomore Erica McAlpine said she feels the abolishment of class rank is unfair. “I don’t think it’s fair to eliminate class rank because we have people who really work hard and care about their school work,” McAlpine said. “It is an accomplishment and it shouldn’t be stripped away from people who have worked their whole lives for this type of recognition and honor.”

McAlpine has been a hardworking student her whole life and has always done her best to achieve good grades. She said she believes not everyone should get the same recognition because not everyone works as hard as others do. 

Thus, it appears doing away with class rank is popular among the staff, but rather unpopular among students. Will the students fight to get their exclusive, well-earned recognition back, or will the Streetsboro administrators continue moving toward the more inclusive, well-balanced method of the Latin Honors System? Only time will tell.