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Huntley High School may drop class rank, move to Latin honor system

Switch would occur for District 158's incoming freshman Class of 2020

HUNTLEY – Huntley High School may replace class ranking with the Latin honor system after administrators proposed the switch to the Huntley Community School District 158 Board of Education last week.

A memo from District 158 Chief Academic Officer Erika Schlichter made the case for the change, saying nixing class rank would open up more college opportunities for more students, and reduce their stress and anxiety. The switch would occur for the school’s incoming freshman Class of 2020.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday, Schlichter said the proposal, which came from a committee of staff members and administrators, was a “long time coming.”

She said the switch would retain a high standard for achieving honors, but make the system less arbitrary by removing the competitive element.

“Functionally, what we would see in a competitive system is our most high-achieving students might be separated from each other by two one-hundredths of grade point average, which essentially is not meaningful, but in the end that would be the difference in a student receiving an honor or not receiving an honor,” Schlichter said.

By eliminating class rank, officials said, students who are just under the percentile cutoff to be eligible for admission to certain colleges would have more options.

The proposed Latin honor system would recognize students with a GPA between 3.75 and 4.249 as cum laude, those between 4.25 and 4.499 as magna cum laude and those with a 4.5 or above as summa cum laude.

Based on Huntley’s 2016 class, those cutoffs would honor about 15 percent of students, administrators said.

Huntley High School Principal Scott Rowe also said class rank was changing the way students chose courses and eliminating it would force colleges to take a more holistic look at applicants from Huntley.

“I think class rank is outdated,” Rowe said. “The East Coast said, ‘We did this 10 years ago, what’s taking you so long?’ You look at the schools that have beat us to this juncture and I think they’re the highest-performing schools in the state of Illinois.”

Crystal Lake-based Community High School District 155 got rid of class rank last summer, and documents from Huntley administrators listed nearly 50 other suburban schools who had made the move.

Administrators said the three universities Huntley students most frequently apply to – Illinois State University, Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois – do not require class rank for admission.

The District 158 Board will vote on the proposal April 21.

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