Much ado over removing decile rankings at UCF board meeting

Fulginiti to retire as assistant principal at Patton in July

By Karen Cresta, Staff Writer, The Times


Retiring Patton Middle School Assistant Principal Jim Fulginiti addresses the audience in front of the Unionville-Chadds Ford Board of Education, Monday night.

EAST MARLBOROUGH – The Unionville Chadds Ford School District (UCFSD) board of education held its regular meeting Monday night at the newly renovated Charles F. Patton Middle School (CFPMS). The meeting took place in the large auditorium (slated for renovations at a later date) with a large audience, most waiting to be heard about the district’s decile ranking policy for Unionville High School.

Prior to the microphone being turned over during residents’ comments, CFPMS principal Tim Hoffman thanked the board for their continued support throughout the process of the renovations of a new entry way, lobby, administrative offices and hallway. Hoffman mentioned that the kids call it the “happy hallway.”

Hoffman honored assistant principal James Fulginiti who provided over 30 years of service to the district, including time as principal of Unionville High School. He said, “integrity is his whole being” and he always tells the kids, “service above self.”

Fulginiti stated that he was “very blessed” and said, “it’s been a great ride since 1978” and he has “a lot to be thankful for.”

The board heard from more than 25 residents, parents and students during the residents’ comments portion of the meeting – for well over an hour and a half – regarding the elimination of the decile ranking and heard many mixed opinions about the proposal of the new policy.

There were those who were students or parents of students within the top decile that posed arguments to keep the current policy as a reward for the hard work and dedication it took to make this elite status. There were those who were in the other 90 percent who agree with the proposal to remove the ranking and not hurt those in the second or third decile and there were those who addressed the possibility of only including the top ten percent ranking in the college application process and not reporting the remaining deciles.

The current policy 214 for Unionville High School (UHS) states, “The Board acknowledges the necessity for a system of computing grade point averages and class rank for secondary school students to inform students, parents and others of their relative academic placement among their peers.”

The proposed policy will strike “and class rank” and “of their relative academic placement among their peers.

For the guidelines of the policy the proposed policy will strike, “Students are ranked by decile according to cumulative GPA” and will add, “Student ranking will not be shared. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis, for example, when students apply to service academies where rank is required for application.”

A junior at UHS, Caroline Fisher, stepped up to the microphone with her prepared statement to the board and said, “…I have worked extremely hard for my GPA and I’m very proud of my academic accomplishments. I believe we should do away with decile ranking because it hurts my chances of attending a highly selective college. I am competing against students from other schools that do not submit rankings and therefore, those students have a competitive advantage over me.”

Another UHS student, David DiMarco, said, “The decile system renders 90 percent of the student body disposable.”

An another UHS student, Brad Saunders, said on the contrary, “Rankings provide colleges with a valid data point that demonstrates the work ethic and ability of a student.” He went on to ask the board, “Why would you slight your top students and weaken their applications?”

Kathleen Do, a former school board member, reminded the board by stating, “As board members, it is your responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the school community and to do no harm. Eliminating decile ranking is a textbook example of an opportunity for you to serve the best interest of the great majority of the students while doing no harm to the remaining students. I maintain that if a significant number of our students are seeing doors to the colleges they wish to attend close on them because of their decile rank, then our system is broken. It is up to you to fix it.”

Colleen Boyle, a parent from East Marlborough township, informed the board that what is important to most colleges is the GPA, written recommendations, interview, essay and extracurricular activities.

Board member Robert Sage summarized his stance by saying, “I believe our current policy is harmful to certain segments of students. Many other top-shelf private high schools and public school districts in Pennsylvania have already made this change. Admissions officers seem to be suggesting that we do the same thing. If we can help a large segment of our students by making this change, then I think we ought to do it.”

“I have 12 pages of notes here from things that the public has said and board members have said tonight. There are some questions that need to be answered… There are some things dangling out there that guide us to having the administration go back to do some more work…,” Superintendent of schools John Sanville concluded.

In order for the possible new policy to be effective for the next class, the class of 2017, the decision needs to be made by March 2016. The board decided that they were not in a position to vote on the new proposed policy at Monday’s meeting and voted to table it instead. The board will continue to study the issue and vote on the policy change at next month’s meeting.

To view all board documents, please visit

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment