Yes, Virginia, there’s school today

The snow wasn’t nearly as deep as I expected this morning. I’m off to shovel as soon as I post this.

Tonight is the Special Elmbrook District Electorate so you lucky taxpayers can give that wonderful developer Vincent Kutemperoor a chunk of district land. Technically you’re selling it to the City of Brookfield, who will in turn convey it to their favorite developer. I’m told the district set it up this way because the Swanson swap drew so much controversy.

Here’s the agenda for the special meeting.

Following there is a regular meeting. (Here’s that agenda.) Tonight’s discussion will include how to reduce incentive for students to achieve good grades. Yep, they’re still talking about doing away with class rank.

Here’s that brilliant Elmbrook rationale:

The committee was formed as a result of the CPC [Curriculum Planning Committee] study. Although the committee identified several concerns, one problem associated with class rank is that over 90% of our students go on to post secondary education. This indicates that 80% of our students that go on to a higher education are not in the top 10% of their class.

GASP! “80% of our students that go on to a higher education are not in the top 10% of their class.”

For shame!

Just add another reason to the list of why people laugh at Elmbrook School Board.

You can’t make this kind of stuff up.

I was thinking about this statement while I was blowing snow: “80% of our students that go on to a higher education are not in the top 10% of their class.” Yes, 90% go to college, but wouldn’t that leave 90% of those that “go on to a higher education” out of that top 10% bracket if the top 10% also go?

See! That gives them an even greater reason to dump class rank.

Oh, come on, you know they will.


  1. Wait what? Dropping class rank? I need a better explanation…

  2. Tinkerbell says:

    Yes, Virginia there WAS early release for elementary and middle schools due to the weather today.

  3. It is only under discussion so far, Dan. Last year the Curriculum Planning Committee recommended unanimously, after a study, to stop reporting class rank. The school board took the recommendation and formed another committee for a second look.

    Reasons pro and con are complicated and over-lapping, but basically the issues are as follows. Some people believe that because our district is so competitive, excellent students may be overlooked in the college admissions process because they are not in the top 10% of their class. A student can have a perfect 4.0 in Elmbrook and not be in the top 10%. Similar districts that have dropped class rank report an increase in acceptance at large state universities.

    Some teachers and administrators feel that the pressure to compete for these top spots has become so intense as to be unhealthy. Check the Wall Street Journal May 24 2008 for some examples of those concerns; the article was titled “High School’s Worst Year?”, by Jonathan Koufman. Ironically, issues of competitiveness in admissions and unhealthy stresses on students have led to measures that restrict educational options for other students: for example, a child entering grade nine can have credit for gym class over the summer, but not for academic work because the academics might upset class rank. That’s just one example. For kids who would thrive at a faster pace, or kids who just want to free up space for an extra elective (like a second music or technology course), class rank issues have become a significant handicap. Some kids have reported taking courses that don’t appeal to their vocational interests or courses that are unchallenging simply for the sake of improving or maintaining rank. We have a rule that students must take a lunch period, because some of our hard-chargers were skipping lunch for the sake of one more class. You have to ask what educational goals are met by maintaining this system. Are we serving our students, or are we serving an exterior system over which we have little or no influence?

    Conversely, some students ARE stimulated by the prospect of competition and are motivated to do better for the sake of a higher rank. Why wouldn’t we want to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of high-achieving students? Larger universities argue that class rank is one more piece of information that helps them evaluate students and without it, they have to make less informed judgements. Some scholarships depend on a reported class rank. If we drop ranking, we will need ways to address some of these issues.

    About half of high schools in the US do rank their students. More private schools have dropped class rank than public schools. Some would argue that the level of performance in our high schools is more comparable to that of a private school than a typical public school. Among public schools, some of the notable high-fliers are dropping class rank. Anecdotally, some districts are waiting to see what Elmbrook decides.

  4. Whoa! So to heck with all of those kids and their cars in high school.

    I think it’s the Central/East basketball game. We wouldn’t want to interfere with athletics for the safety of the students, now would we?

    BTW, I let my brain thaw and rethought the 80% thing. I get it now. I wouldn’t want you to worry. 🙂

  5. Randy in Richmond says:

    I thought the major purpose of College Boards was to bypass the idiosyncrasies of the many local school systems and provide an overall, unbiased parameter to evaluate students with the same yardstick. Given this somewhat objective tool I would assume colleges and universities would asign a low priority to class ranking.

  6. “State Representative John Fritchey (D) (from Blagojevich’s home district), head of the House Judiciary committee, said impeachment proceedings will begin immediately.”

    Good to hear this too. I know John Fritchey, he’s a really great guy–who actually has been working against the Chicago machine for a long time.

  7. Lorax – this belongs under a different post. PS – I think you just gave away your identity.

  8. Woops. And I know.

  9. “Some would argue that the level of performance in our high schools is more comparable to that of a private school than a typical public school.”

    True that. As taxpayers, we are certainly paying for the privilege.

    Mine all went to the parochial school through 5th grade, then moved to PPMS. Without exception, their educations have been phenomenal. One barely scraped into the top 10%; one went into the BOTTOM 25%; and one is on track to be in the top 20 students.

    Will it matter in 20 years? I doubt it. But I still resist the tendency for districts to stop measuring students. We’ve given up grade reports in grade school. Now we’re looking at dropping class rank. I fear we’re creating a generation of youth that believe equal rewards will come regardless of the level of effort invested.

  10. Tinkerbell says:

    Cindy, hopefully all the roads will be cleared by then and the teens (and everyone) will have safer driving conditions.

    When you say , “I fear we’re creating a generation of youth that believe equal rewards will come regardless of the level of effort invested.”, I wonder: under socialism, this would be true?

    Kathryn, thank you for thought provoking insight into the issues for and against class rank.

    Randy, I wonder if the College Boards are looking for shortcuts? Possibly over relying on the same indicators they were originally intended to offset?

  11. I was out about an hour ago and it was crummy.

    Last night I wrote, “You see, snow days in the Elmbrook district have this bizarre lack of consistency.” I guess with this early release for a few system the district announced, that statement remains truthful.

  12. Randy, it’s my understanding that colleges and universities rely on class rank somewhat less than they used to, but it is still fairly important to the admissions process. Large institutions, like the state universities I mentioned, appear to rely on them more heavily than smaller colleges that may place more weight on personal essays and so forth.

    Some institutions are moving away from using SATs/ACTs in their admissions process. (That may be more of an East Coast trend than a Mid-West one at this point.) There was an interesting piece on that topic on Dan Rather Reports last spring (?)

    Things are changing out there.

  13. Randy in Richmond says:

    I whole-heartedly support College Boards because they are as objective a measure as we have. An ‘A’ in XYZ High may be equivalent to a ‘C’ in PQR High and so forth. Certainly no one criteria should be used alone but the Boards are a great equalizer between public, private, and home schooled students. Countless studies have shown that multiple choice tests are the fairest and most accurate predictors of a person’s knowledge in a given field and they completely remove the subjective evaluator from the process. Again, other criteria should also weigh in for the process to be well rounded and fair. As to Kathryn’s point of being say 50th in a class of 1000 with a GPA of 3.8 and being 150th in another school’s class of 1000 with a GPA of 3.8 it makes sense that class rank means little beyond the school giving the ranking. And to me that is the importance of the ranking–within the school or system attended and not to the institutions of higher learning. For this reason I believe the ranking system can be beneficial to the students – but hey, I believe we should still keep score in athletic events at all levels of competition.

  14. Tinkerbell says:

    Randy, I concur.