Who's Number One?
I think they are dancing around the real issue here. The trouble is, it is hard to determine class rank among all the students with an A grade-point average. But why are so many students getting straight As? Don't grades mean anything any more?
Apparently not. Today, well over half the students going to college have straight A high school GPAs. This is almost double the number from when I went to school. [Exercise for the reader: When did this lunatic graduate from high school?] This is while SAT scores have fallen by an inflation-adjusted 140 points.
There is a simple solution to this problem. Start giving Cs, Ds, and Fs again. Make students work hard for that A, and even for the B. When I was in high school, I had to walk uphill in the snow to get an A, and today's students should have to do the same. [Ok, let them bring their iPods.] Students (and their parents) should not expect automatic As. The average student should get a C.
When it comes down to it, colleges don't count grades and class ranks very much in their entrance criteria anyway. They just don't mean anything. And you don't need a 4.0 average to figure that out.