MINOOKA – A focus group studying class rank presented its conclusions and recommendations to Minooka Community High School board members Wednesday evening.
Seniors Alex Carynoff and Olivia Salazar presented the group’s recommended plan to the board Wednesday. The group suggested keeping track of student rank, but to use it only in certain circumstances, such as to choose a valedictorian and salutatorian. When requested by students, rank could appear on transcripts that go to colleges for application purposes.
The group suggested class rank no longer appear on report cards or transcripts otherwise. A system of percentile bands could be recorded instead.
Student grade point averages and student population numbers will be used to calculate if a particular student falls in the top 1 percent of his or her class. Other class bands would include the top 2 percent, 3 to 5 percent, 6 to 10 percent, 11 to 15 percent, 16 to 20 percent, 21 to 25 percent, 26 to 50 percent, 51 to 75 percent and 76 to 100 percent.
Each graduating class would have its own profile with percentile bands, updated each semester.
Although the school board did not vote on the recommendations Wednesday, members said they would consider them.
After the meeting, MCHS interim assistant principal and focus group participant Bert Kooi said percentile bands would show who performed at the top of their classes without identifying one student over another within each band.
“By moving from focusing on class rank to percentage bands, we will have the opportunity to recognize more students,” Kooi said. “Students will also become less cognitive of their rank number and more cognitive of mastering the content of a specific class.”
The focus group also recommended bestowing honors such as summa cum laude, magna laude and cum laude on graduating seniors. Specific GPA requirements for each would have to be decided upon.
Kooi said the plan includes increasing recognition of academic excellence in general. School walls, now lined with photos of athletes, would include photos of students with outstanding class percentiles. Every class, not just seniors, would have honors events each fall recognizing academic accomplishments.
“Anytime we can recognize what our students are doing is a good thing,” Kooi said.
The plan could begin as early as next year, should the board approve.
Class rank has been a contentious one at the school since administrators recommended discontinuing the practice last fall.
Many high schools are foregoing the class ranking system, saying that doing so will cut down on competition in schools and force colleges to look more closely at high school students and their achievements.
Others believe admissions will become more difficult when colleges do not have a student’s class rank to consider. They worry that eliminating rank will make it more difficult for admissions officials to compare applicants, with more weight given to SAT and ACT scores.
After a deluge of mostly negative feedback, the district formed the focus group. It consisted of parents, students, teachers, administrators and at-large members of the community.
After closed session, the board also approved last month’s resignation of Principal Darcie Kubinski. After the meeting, Blanche said the district will post her position by next week. He is forming a search plan that will include input from district staff and community members.
“The intent is to make this a collaborative process involving some of the stakeholders,” he said. “We want to have a broad base of support from day one and set [the new principal] up for success.”
Blanche said a new principal could be appointed as soon as the spring semester.
In the meantime, former assistant principal Matt Wikoff will serve as principal, and former physical education instructional leader Kooi will serve as assistant principal. Blanche said a replacement for Kooi’s former position will be considered in the next couple of weeks.
Residents raise questions about superintendent salary
Also Wednesday, residents Curt Jebens and Jim Biddle asked the school board how it plans to pay for two superintendents’ salaries next school year. Both have asked for the same information previously.
Former Superintendent Jim Colyott, let go from the district this summer, is still under contract until June 30, 2015, and continues to earn an annual salary, stipends and other payments of $210,000. The district is contributing another $19,917 in insurance.
Interim Superintendent Jim Blanche began serving the district July 28 at a salary of $935 a day, for a period of 150-170 days during the coming school year.
Board President Mike Brozovich said there was no arranged plan on how the district would pay both salaries, but that members will reduce the budget in several ways. Brozovich said there are no plans to increase taxes to pay for the overlapping salaries.