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Viewpoint: Not backing down in opposition to class rank

By Qin Tang

Resident's Viewpoint

I recently got back after a month long vacation to China. Meanwhile three viewpoints appeared in Woodbury Bulletin in response to my June 5 viewpoint questioning our school district's decision to discontinue class ranking.

The decision made by the district's secondary school principals was to end class ranking. It no longer will be reported or made available for students and families beginning next school year.

I think the district's decision is one-sided. While its intention is to correct a problem for some students, now it puts other students at disadvantage.

I appreciate all who took the time and effort to express their opinions and share their unique perspectives.

Anushua Bhattacharya, an East Ridge graduate, offered her perspective as a student who benefited from class ranking ("The end of the ranking system ... ," June 26). She attested that class ranking played an important role in benchmarking, motivation and competition.

Deb Hamilton offered a balanced perspective as a parent and advocated the same hybrid class-rank approach as I did, to give students an option to opt in to class rank if they feel it will benefit them in the college application process (July 10).

On the other hand, I was concerned about Tod Johnson's comments (June 26). Johnson shared his perspective as a parent in supporting of the district's decision. I respect his position and understand that class ranking does not benefit all students, but I do not agree with his argument that "student rank is a meaningless statistic and has little to do with success or failure in the real world."

If class ranking is a meaningless statistic, why do so many people care about it? Students work hard for it. Parents showed up at the district's information sessions to express their opinions and concerns about the decision?

As for success or failure in the real world, yes, rank has little to do with it, but so are money, power and position. Who are we to judge someone's success or failure?

I have been a faithful Woodbury Bulletin reader for over 10 years. I could remember few school related topics that have touched nerves and generated as much interest and responses in the paper as with this topic.

On my recent flight back home, I happened to watch the newly released movie "Admission." It's about a Princeton University admissions officer. In scenes where the admissions officers were reviewing the applications and making decisions collectively to accept or deny an application, one of the first things mentioned about a profile is class ranking.

I know movies are fictions, not necessary realistic, but in this case. I doubt that class ranking would be mentioned repeatedly if it's totally irrelevant and meaningless.

Another argument that Johnson shared was collaboration is more important than competition.

I think competition and collaboration are both important. They are not mutually exclusive. Ranking provides competition. It motivates and encourages hard work, but it does not exclude collaboration. We have the best example of integrating competition and collaboration in the robotics teams of East Ridge and Math and Science Academy. Both teams work together side-by-side out of the East Ridge workshop, sharing tools, training, meals and meetings, and they compete at the same competitions against each other.

At the May 22 information session I raised a legal question related to Freedom of Information Act and access to government data. Our Minnesota state law says: "All government data collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by a government entity shall be public unless classified..." []. I wondered whether this law applies to schools. Does the public have the right to access ranking information?

Again I want to repeat my petition to the district that class ranking be provided to students and parents if requested. It's a great motivational tool. Students should have the option/right to know how they are doing academically. The more ways we have to accomplish this, the better. Class ranking is one of the criteria in academic performance measure and is considered in college admission, even if not by all colleges. Why take it away if it benefits some students? Do we take something away just because it does not benefit everyone?

Tang is a Woodbury resident