The term "quintile" refers to one-fifth of a particular group. Quintile 1 typically means the top one-fifth of the group, quintile 2 refers to the second fifth and so on down to quintile 5, the lowest group. In education, a quintile rank may apply to ideas such as student grades or program effectiveness, ranking people or ideas to give a clear idea of their relationships to each other and to indicate the top performers.

Usage in Education

Educators and educational institutions use quintile rankings in various ways. For example, at Pennsylvania State University, admissions representatives use high school quintile rankings as one factor in choosing which applicants to admit. Some schools, such as Princeton, make quintile rankings available to students to give them another indication of their academic progress and standing. Some schools also use quintile ranking to indicate top achievers. For instance, the law school within the University of Hawaii at Manoa figures student ranking using quintiles based on GPA, which students may list on their resumes. Some schools, such as the University of Alaska Anchorage, also use quintile ranking to determine which programs within the university deserve more support and which might need to be eliminated.

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