Ranks motivate students to work hard and achieve more. (Photo illustration by Junanna Chen)
Fountain Valley High School

Opinion: Class ranks motivate students and promote competition

When I was a freshman, I was shocked to learn ranks didn’t exist in any classes. Where’s the fun in that? Well, none. With school feeling even more boring and extended due to this unnecessary nine-minute passing period, let’s look to spice things up on campus and make it an option for teachers to implement class ranks.

At my middle school, most math and science teachers implemented class ranks that were visible when students check their grades online. Out of the 30-something students in my classes, I usually ranked within the top five. Oddly enough, math and science are my weakest subjects, but I invested time and effort into those classes because of my rank. I loved the competition. I worked hard.

Fast forward to high school and the only class rank that exists is the one on your semester report card. Instead of being ranked among my peers in second period chemistry, I’m ranked out of 900 or so sophomores. This academic rank is based on grade point average, therefore many students in the same grade tie for first, second, third and so forth.

Individual ranks in classes will encourage students to be more aware of their academics and are a source of motivation to achieve more. It’s likely students will be more productive and establish solid work ethic to improve their academic performance.

Class ranks would also increase competition among students for the better. Higher ranking students battle to be number one, while those who fall short vie to improve their ranks and climb to the top. The fight to stay out of last place will also encourage progress and effort among the students who rank low. Increased competition may seem unnecessary, but it’s valuable exposure to the extreme competition in life.

Now, there is a darker side to competition. Many students equate their worth to a number or grade, and having to deal with ranks would only cause them to feel more stressed. However, this school culture is fostered by students, parents and faculty alike. Competition doesn’t belong in a harsh and stressful environment. We have an obligation to create a healthy school culture that will allow competition of some sort to thrive.

Ideally, we should encourage both a healthy learning environment and competition, but that’s currently unrealistic. Today’s education culture puts major importance on grades, which devalues learning and harms students. Improving school culture may also require reforming aspects of the education system, but it’s possible when we put in a collective effort.

High school is tough, but it’s nothing compared to the real world: college admissions are competitive, medical school is competitive, the job market is competitive. Healthy competition develops tenacity, work ethic, motivation and other skills that students can take with them to adulthood in order to tackle obstacles head on.

Even though class ranking isn’t a perfect system, it’s clear that it will drive students to achieve more and promote meaningful competition. Fountain Valley High School’s academic culture is not cutthroat, so class ranks are worth considering for the best interest of the students.

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