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Class Rank, Weighted and Unweighted GPA, and the "Education Race"

It’s time to declare a moratorium on class ranking.

One of my most popular post is on the difference between weighted and unweighted GPA, and the phenomenon of class rank.  I get scads of comment on that post, and on other similar ones.

Today I received one from a distraught parents whose daughter was being “demoted” from the rank of #1 in her class because of a change in policy at the girl’s school.  I responded at length, and I decided to reprint it as a post in hopes of helping to calm other parents who obsess about class rank.

Here’s the question:

I may be a bit late to find your site, but my daughter (a senior) finds herself frustrated by a recent “mishap” in due diligence at her school. Historically, the school used unweighted grading, yet uses class rank (which also determines valedictorian). Evidently, the school decided to assign a 4.3 to A+. My daughter has several on her transcript and they are all in either core subjects or language (which is an elective at this school), all As and one A- in an AP course (of which she has several). We were sent her transcript with GPA (4.15) and rank (1). “Several parents”, seeing these values printed in the school handbook, and seeing their children’s rank drop complained to administration who then decided to “reverse” their newly published policy. If there has been a re-calculation (and she was told by her guidance counselor there has been), we have not been notified. I am furious at this convoluted “process” and lack of communication and have an appointment to speak with the principal. College apps are due, and I want the school to send her transcript/GPA/Class rank that we have in hand that was valid on Sept 2 (but apparently not now!). Is it worth it to ask them to send both? Is it worth it to ask them to calculate a weighted GPA as well (I wouldn’t even know the values! and would think that they do even if they don’t use weighted).

Also, is there a correlation between an unweighted grading system and use of class rank? In other words, could it be suggested that a school that uses unweighted grading ought to NOT rank?

Thanks in advance.

Here is my response: