Trustees for San Antonio’s North East Independent School District voted Monday to stop recording the class rank of high school students who fall below the top 10% of their class.
Students who are currently in the 7th grade will be the first to be impacted by the new policy, which goes into effect when they enter 9th grade in the fall of 2021.
North East officials said they decided to reduce the focus on class rank to make high school less stressful and allow students to become more well-rounded.
“We have students who feel so much pressure to be top 10% that they are taking more AP classes than they should,” said Board President Shannon Grona in an email. “Now hopefully this will reduce some of that pressure from our students.”
Students who are in the top 10% of their class qualify for automatic admission to most of Texas’ public universities.
North East Associate Superintendent Donna Newman said right now students are sometimes hesitant to take non-academic courses or spend time on extracurricular activities because they’re worried about hurting their class rank.
“We want to maintain rigorous coursework for those students who pursue the total academics, but we also want our students to be able to take courses that they’re interested in,” Newman said.
North East’s new class rank policy also reduces the weight given to AP classes and other honors courses.
Newman said the new policy will also encourage universities to consider other factors, like specific coursework and community service, in admissions.
“Other districts have done this and have reported that more of their students are getting into universities based on this holistic approach,” Newman said.
Still, Newman said she didn’t think the policy put North East students at an unfair advantage compared to districts that rank all of their students.
“The top 10% throughout the state will still be ranked in all of our schools, and I think beyond that it’s important that everybody take a look at the whole child,” Newman said.
Other districts across the state have adopted similar class rank policies recently, including several in the Houston suburbs.
Parents with children in the district said Tuesday they were glad for the change.
“My oldest has anxiety issues with schooling, so I feel like this is great for her and will help her definitely,” said Cristy Burguete. “Plus it kind of mimics what I’m trying to teach my children anyway. I’m trying to teach them to be well-rounded.”
Burguete’s oldest daughter is in the 9th grade at the International School of the Americas, which implemented the policy earlier than the rest of the district.
The Top 10% rule is intended to ensure students across Texas have equal access to the state’s flagship universities, but according to a recent study, white students and students from wealthier school districts are still more likely to attend Texas A&M and the University of Texas.