St. Edmond Catholic School will no longer use class rank starting with the 2014-15 year. The graduating class of 2014 will be the last to receive class ranks.
Eliminating class rank allows students to be more competitive when applying to colleges and for scholarships, Mary Gibb, St. Edmond president, said.
"Before it was anybody in the top half of the class got in," Gibb said. "You can have a B-plus average here and not get into one of the state schools. That seems kind of harsh, in my eyes. A student that is getting B-pluses at St. Edmond, they can go and be very successful at college. But if they can't get into college, then that's a problem."
Colleges must then take into consideration other factors, Gibb said.
"By not having class rank, the college admission offices have to look at the whole package the student is offering them at admittance," she said. "They have to look at their GPA, their ACT scores. They have to look at the activities they've been involved in, and the classes they're taking."
According to Gibb, colleges are especially interested in whether or not students have taken "rigorous courses."
"They want to see if they're challenging themselves in high school so they're preparing themselves for college," she said. "By taking out class rank we're forcing the colleges to look at that whole student and judge them on that, and accept them into the college based on those factors rather than just if they are in the top half of their class."
As an educator at Valley High School in West Des Moines, Gibb witnessed personally the benefits of removing class rank.
"After we did away with class rank we probably got 50 to 75 more kids per class each year into our state schools," she said. "Right away, within the first year, it was a benefit to our students. Obviously their classes sizes are a lot bigger than they are here, but when I say to 50 to 75 kids more, that's a lot. So if we get five to 10 to 15 more here, that's a lot that can go directly on to those state schools by not having class rank."
By removing class rank, the school is also removing titles such as valedictorian.
"My answer to that is, we will recognize more students because of this, because we will have a top 3 percent, top 5 percent," Gibb said. "We will still recognize those students that are excelling academically, and now we'll be able to do more than just one. I think even that is a benefit to the students and parents."
Students seeking scholarships that may request a class rank will have a letter sent with their high school transcripts, Gibb said, explaining the Catholic school's ranking system.
"It will say that the following benchmarks offer you comparative data to assist you in making decisions on scholarship awards," she said. "We'll have the top 3 percent and what that grade point is, and above. Because that's where the scholarships are."