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A free summer seminar for experienced high school journalism advisers

From the 23 teachers who attended this workshop in July 2019, we have included Solutions Journalism Story Ideas, other Story Ideas for a whole range of topics and Tech Examples of something they learned, many of these for data visualization, plus some resources anyone can use in the future for these topics.

Solutions Journalism Story Idea: An Expansion

Story Idea

For my “Solutions Journalism” story idea, I am expanding upon one of the four ideas we submitted for homework while at Kent State.

Our school district considered eliminating class rank but determined that it “wasn’t ready” for such a change. The fight for the number one spot has fostered undesirable and high stress interactions among those who are academically competitive. Some have pursued non traditional methods to increase their GPA, including taking summer courses and VHS courses for the sole purpose of accumulating more credits. Additionally, many will not take electives ranked as “General” or “College Prep” (which include some entry level Visual Arts classes and journalism) because it will “set them back” in their rank. 


  • Covers a RESPONSE to a problem and HOW response happened


      • Local schools in our area, in the state of New Jersey, and in other states have eliminated class rank.  This decision was not without deliberation. What factors were considered? What prompted the response/decision?


  • Provides EVIDENCE of impact, looking at effectiveness, not just intentions


      • What results have these districts seen? 
      • What observations have guidance counselors, teachers, and students made? 
      • Any changes in enrollment in elective courses?


  • Provides INSIGHTS that can help others respond


      • The insights gained could help the Board of Education members AND the the school community voice their thoughts to the Board regarding this matter up for discussion.


  • Points out any LIMITATIONS or caveats of the response


    • Students may not want to admit they are motivated by the numbers and the ranking.
    • Not sure what insights/data guidance will have to offer other than formal research. Possibly could give insights into what percentage of students take AP/Honors or online courses during summer.
    • Superintendent may not have much to offer other than it is up for consideration. Very conscious of public reaction to any district items. 
    • Guidance office will not release the academic records of other students, so it may be challenging to find students competing for class rank.
    • Those who are motivated to improve their ranking may appear overly competitive, aggressive, or “cut-throat” when discussing

Big Questions to Explore

  • What are the advantages of eliminating class rank?
  • What are the disadvantages of eliminating class rank?
  • What role does class rank have on student academic motivation?
  • What other local/state/national districts have chosen to eliminate class rank?
  • How does class rank or lack thereof affect college admissions or scholarships qualification?

Potential Resources for Student Research

Planning Possibilities

  • Who are the primary and secondary sources that you would consult?
  • What data provides insight into this issue? How is that best presented?
  • What does this issue look like up close? How can that story be told?
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