The student news site of Potomac Falls High School

The Roar

The student news site of Potomac Falls High School

The Roar

The student news site of Potomac Falls High School

The Roar

What’s the Status of Class Rank?


In an attempt to lessen pressure on students, counties across the state of Virginia are eliminating class rank.

In October 2020, the Loudoun County School Board voted to eliminate class rank starting with the Class of 2025 and establish in its place a percentage-based Latin Honor System in order to reduce the mental toll that it has on high schoolers. “Trying to get to number 1, 2, 3, 4 — it’s just too enormous,” said school board member Harris Mahedavi to WTOP.

Class rank is a calculated numerical ranking of individual academic performance used to indicate one’s position relative to others in the student body of their class. However, the Latin Honor System is a percentage-based system with three basic tiers: Summa Cum Laude (top 5 percent), Magna Cum Laude (top 10 percent), and Cum Laude (top 20 percent). Both systems only use student GPA to calculate status.

According to WTOP, Loudoun County is one of the last counties in Virginia to eliminate class rank, following counties such as Fairfax, Prince William, and Arlington. “[The Loudoun County School Board] felt that going to the Latin [Honor] System would work, closely mirroring the other school districts around us and reducing stress for kids,” said Principal Dr. Brandon Wolfe.

A lot of the pressure of class rank comes from its role in college admissions. However, admission deans seem to no longer place such a large emphasis on GPAs. “They look at it, but you won’t be admitted or denied because of your class rank,” said College and Career Center specialist MaryAnn Ottenberg.

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There are a myriad of factors in a student’s application that are considered by colleges to be much more indicative of a strong student than their ranking, whether it is numerical or percentage-based. “Curriculum, grades, essays, and letters of recommendation are what matters,” said Ottenberg.

Involvement in high school activities are definitely another significant part of your resume, but misconceptions surrounding involvement often tend to lead students astray. “[It’s] not how many, [it’s] how immersed you were,” said Ottenberg.

Whether the top two students will be awarded Valedictorian or Salutatorian in the future is uncertain. “I’m hopeful as we get closer to the end of the school year that some of these questions will be resolved for us,” said Director of Counseling Rae Ann Paolozzi.

The importance of this change for faculty is minimizing the academic worries of students, allowing them to become more motivated to achieve their own personal goals. “I think it allows students to focus on doing well and what they are interested in and not so much pressure to be the best,” said Wolfe.

While class rank is certainly provoking, students typically place the stress of obtaining a significant GPA on themselves, in hopes that it will impress colleges and allow them admission into top schools. The pressure is meaningless. “We have no bad colleges in the U.S. There is a place for everyone, with no judgment other than what students put on themselves,” said Ottenberg.

While the mental strain that is paired with academic ranking is known by many students to be overwhelming, maintaining a numerical class rank is still believed by some to be an important part of acknowledging a very small population of extremely motivated students. “I think class rank did a good job at recognizing the exceptional students for their performance and I’m somewhat saddened by the fact that it won’t be there anymore,” said senior Arjun Setty.

“You can always be encouraged to do the best you can, but not overwhelmingly stressed out to be at the top of the class,” said Wolfe.