Trustees approve pilot program at Westwood High to exclude class rank from student transcripts

The Round Rock Independent School District Board of Trustees has approved a pilot program for the 2017-18 school year that will remove class rank from student transcripts at Westwood High School, effective October 1.

Responding to concerns from parents that pursuit of class rank is adversely affecting their children’s academic experience — and that the inclusion of rank could potentially hurt a student in the college application process coming from the unique academic environment of Westwood — Round Rock ISD administration recommended the pilot program at Westwood, which will be reviewed at the end of the school year.

Trustees also approved a recommendation that, beginning in the 2018-19 school year, students at other Round Rock ISD high schools could opt out of including class rank on their transcripts.

A committee of Round Rock principals, counselors, students and parents studied the issue for two years before the recommendation was finalized. In a parent survey conducted in May, 69 percent of Westwood parents said it would be beneficial to exclude class rank from their child’s transcript. Only 15 percent favored including class rank and 16 percent said they needed more information to make a decision.

No other high school’s results were as overwhelmingly in favor of excluding class rank as Westwood, but many indicated they needed more information to make a decision. Across all Round Rock ISD high schools, 55 percent of parents were in favor of excluding class rank, while 23 percent said they needed more information.

Class rank up to the top 10 percent will still be reported, as required by Texas law. The so-called “Top 10 Percent Law” guarantees admission to Texas public universities to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class. However, universities are allowed to cap admissions to 75 percent of its incoming class. At The University of Texas at Austin, that means a student must graduate in the top 7 percent of his or her class this year to gain admission.

Several area high schools have either stopped reporting class rank, other than the top 10 percent, or allow students to opt out of including rank on their transcripts.

“This is an important issue for our high school students and their parents and we will continue to study the impact of this decision on our students’ academic choices and, ultimately, their success in getting into college,” Superintendent of Schools Steve Flores, Ph.D., said. “It’s important to remember that rank in class is just one factor of many that college admissions officials may consider, but we want to ensure we are giving our students every possible advantage to achieve their goals for higher education and beyond.”