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  • School vision logo

    New school year -- old educational questions

    Education. We pretend it begins for youngsters in September, when the leaves turn, but it continues through all of our season, every minute of every day, for everyone. Learning persists for two reasons -- human curiosity and technological change (you can't stop either one, but notice which is first). Shouldn't a third factor be classroom teachers? Good ones can have a lifelong effect, but our curiosity is the best guide, as technology draws us, often in too many directions, in the classroom that is everywhere. As Arlington schools open Tuesday, Sept. 2, what happens there is sliver of the educational story, albeit a key one for residents. Still, let's take a quick look at the new school year -- and then peer more broadly beyond it. ...

  • Pondering Our Future logo

    Spaced out? Many artists, but resistant owners

    Does Arlington have the imagination to embrace co-working? The town is trying to find out and held a forum in June attended by about 30 people. Read a summary of comments from some of the attendees here >>  See what properties in town may be available here >> Following publication, Eric Love, present at the forum, provided a brief critique. His LARP Adventure Program, aims to spur imaginations. ...

  • Arlington election logo

    Primary letters -- all welcome -- 8 ask you to vote for Berwick

    YourArlington welcomes letters to the editor from Arlington residents for all Massachusetts candidates whose election would have an impact on the town. Email them to sprague.bob at gmail.com. Here are eight supporting Don Berwick, who is seeking to be the Democratic nominee after the Sept. 9 primary. Send letters supporting any candidate in the primary. 'It's not just talk' Don Berwick, Democratic candidate for governor, speaks boldly about values and making Massachusetts a beacon for the nation. It’s not just talk -- he has met bold goals throughout his career.  Don is a creative leader with wise judgment and deep executive experience in complex bureaucracies, including as President Obama’s head of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, that vast $800 billion federal agency.  His vision includes single-payer healthcare for Massachusetts, and he is the one candidate who understands how to make that happen; and, why it must happen, as rising healthcare costs consume o ...

  • Film reviews logo

    Review, ‘Life of Crime’: Leonard’s crew back at shenanigans

    This review by Tom Meek, a writer living in Cambridge, was originally published at Cambridge Day, a YourArlington partner, and is republished with permission. His reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in The Boston Phoenix, The Rumpus, Thieves Jargon, Film Threat and Open Windows. He is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere. You can follow Tom on Twitter @TBMeek3 and read more at TBMeek3.wordpress.com. Elmore Leonard, the beloved master crime and western novelist, transcended seamlessly the divide between pulp and celluloid. His career is littered with great novels that became great movies (“Get Shorty,” “Jackie Brown” and “Out of Sight” to name a few), a smattering of original screenplays (“Joe Kidd”) and even took a few turns as producer. Cormac McCarthy might be his only peer. ...

  • Image of leaves

    Searching for an Arlington poet laureate: YOU?

    Are you a poet -- and you do know it? What have you written? Anything published? Inquiring minds want to know. Rumor has it that Arlington could have its own poet laureate, perhaps next year. Could that be you? ...

  • Arlington election logo

    8 ask you to vote for Berwick; letters for others welcome

    YourArlington welcomes letters to the editor from Arlington residents for all Massachusetts candidates whose election would have an impact on the town. Email them to sprague.bob at gmail.com. Here are eight supporting Don Berwick, who is seeking to be the Democratic nominee after the Sept. 9 primary. Only candidate to oppose casinos   I write in support of Don Berwick for governor. I support Don because he is the only candidate for governor opposed to casinos. In a strong field of likable candidates, this is decisive for me. I saw the Detroit casino pull the life out of the Greektown neighborhood there, so that it looked like a bombed out war zone. ...

  • Chris Loreti, former Redevelopment Board member

    Loreti to seek Town Meeting article targeting assessors' fiasco

    Loreti The following opinion column by Christopher Loreti of Adams Street was first published in The Arlington Advocate, on Aug. 14, under the headline "It’s Time to Professionalize Arlington’s Board of Assessors." The full column, which includes a paragraph about YourArlington deleted from The Advocate's version, is republished here with permission. In January 2012, the state Department of Revenue provided to Arlington a “Town and School Finance Analysis,” which included several recommendations for restructuring town government. The report contained two recommendations related to the Board of Assessors. The first of these recommendations was that the town make the director of assessments position an appointment of the Town Manager instead of the Board of Assessors. The second was that the town consider changing the Board of Assessors from an elected to an appointed board. The actions of the Board of Assessors in recent months make it clear that the town needs to move forward w ...

  • Domestic-violence logo

    New law curbs domestic-violence reports: What about sexual-assault case?

    A new law, signed Aug. 8 by Governor Patrick, requires law enforcement to keep domestic-violence cases off public police logs initially, and the Arlington police department is complying. That means details about domestic violence reported to police are not immediately available to the media -- or to you. Had the law been in effect June 1, information about a sexual-assault case in East Arlington would have been delayed. Chief Fred Ryan reached out to area media outlets Aug. 12, alerting them about the law and asking for feedback. He explained: ...

  • 2014 Arlington Cal Ripken champs

    How about honoring this team, Arlington?

    The Arlington National U12 All-Stars baseball team did not win the 2014 Cal Ripken World Series, but the boys had one doozy of a ride. They had four wins in a row until they ran into a then-unbeaten Bronx squad and a heartbreaking, double come-from-behind 7-6 loss to a Florida team. No need to cry. What the team has done is remarkable. The town should recognize their on-the-diamond accomplishments, just as occurred in 2008, when an Arlington Cal Ripken team went to the Series. There was a parade down Mass. Ave. Officials spoke on the steps at Town Hall. It was August then, as it is now. You can read brief summaries about how the 2014 team played out in the Series here >> This is a story that The Advocate or Patch have yet to report. In the photo from left in rear are manager John Messuri, Coach Scott Jones, Spencer Friedman, James Santagati, Brendan Jones, Sam Theodore, Timothy Mazzei, Patrick Masci, Coach Rich Flynn; in front are Timothy Shaw, Jacob Ahern, Caden FitzPa ...

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 Monday Sept. 1, 2014 |  7:24:12 p.m.
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Image showing grads

One factor, the decile measure, drops off college-acceptance map

As deadlines for college applications loom, Arlington High School students face a new reality: The school eliminated a factor once thought to be important in contributing to the rate of college acceptance for seniors -- the decile ranking or class rank.

A decile rank is a broad categorization of a student’s academic abilities and places each student in a percentage of the class rather than a specific number.

For example, if a student's grade-point average indicates that he or she is in the top 30 percent of the class, his or her decile rank would be 3. Before the decile rank was instituted eight years ago, AHS recorded the exact class rank of each individual in the senior class on their transcripts. This is the first time in the school's history the class ranking category has been eliminated entirely.

Here's what led to dropping this statistic: At the end of the 2012 school year, AHS guidance counselors noticed a drastic change regarding grades and decile rank with the class of 2013. Although many students seemed to maintain respectable grades and GPAs, many fell into a low-decile ranking. Statistically, many students fell about one to two deciles compared to previous years' students with similar GPAs.

With this discrepancy in the decile, the guidance department believed the category was affecting the majority of the class negatively.

AHS senior Jessie Page said that decile rank "doesn’t seem to reflect your academic achievements at all."

The guidance counselors believe this change is linked to a high level of competitiveness between students in the class of 2013, a greater pressure to take and succeed in advanced-placement courses and a greater interest in college.

"I am thrilled we don’t have it anymore," said guidance counselor Lynna Williams. "... Eventually, every school will have the decile or class rank eliminated."

But for students who have maintained grades that qualify them to be in the top 10 percent of the class, guidance counselors will continue to notify college admissions officers about this goal through mandatory letters of recommendation and by other means.

In addition, students will remain eligible for scholarships that specifically correlate to a top percentage of the graduating class.

"I was worried about decile ranking, because it wasn't an accurate reflection of grades," said AHS senior Madge Stein.

For other students who may be worried, guidance counselors have interviewed each college representative who has come to AHS and, according to Williams, all have stated that the decile is connected to such a small portion of the current application process that it is in some cases unnoticeable.

College representatives, including those from such schools as Bates, Bowdoin and Colby, have also agreed that the elimination will not affect a student's chance of getting into a school over another student who may attend a school with a class ranking category.

Still, like most decisions, it contains two sides to the coin.

"I think that some people like looking at where they are in the class when they get their transcript," said AHS senior Dan Russell, "and for some students, it can be rewarding."

This change was initially presented by the guidance department, but because of its potential impact, the proposal was sent to administration and the School Committee, where the ultimate decision was made and approved in 2012.


The author is a senior journalism student at Arlington High School.

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