Written by: Solomon Kim
Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) announced it will remove the decile class rank system next year to give students better opportunities when applying to colleges. The class of 2013 will be the first affected by this decision.
The decile system is a method of ranking students’ academic achievements in terms of Grade Point Average (GPA), in which the top 10 percent of GPAs are in the first decile, and so on. However, according to numerous Gunn and Palo Alto High School (Paly) counselors, the system is rather inefficient, and even handicapping. “[Gunn and Paly counselors] suggested the district to remove the system, since many competitive colleges are placing a large value on a student’s GPA.”
According to Christensen, more than 60 to 70 percent of Gunn students score in the top 10 percent on many national tests, such as PSAT, PLAN and EXPLORE. The district decided, however, that the distribution of high GPAs in the decile system does not give a fair chance to students during the admissions process. “I don’t underestimate other parts of admission process,” Christensen said. “However, since many competitive colleges try to admit students with top ten percent to enhance their status, many students who still excel at other things and might have earned two to three B’s during their high school years might be disadvantaged.”
Assistant Principal of Guidance Tom Jacoubowsky shares Christensen’s opinion regarding this matter. “One elite private college in the south said, ‘We don’t compare your [Gunn] students with students with other school’s students. We compare [Gunn] students with how they do against each other,’” Jacoubowsky said. “This philosophy handicaps our students because it doesn’t allow them to stand out and show how talented they are.”
“Now colleges would not be biased as now during the admission process,” junior Andrew Dai said. “I personally believe that [Gunn] students have been disadvantaged before, since Gunn is so competitive, and many colleges mainly focus on the applicants’ stats.”
Students have faith that the removal of the decile system will prove beneficial for the most part. “For students who are struggling, I think the removal of the system will give them more chances, and lead them to better colleges,” sophomore Antonio Puglisi said.