Friday, July 18, 2008

More on the Higher Education Summit

By Richard Vedder

At the end of his superb remarks at the Higher Education Summit in Chicago telling how California State University (466,000 students on 23 campuses) is dealing with increasing access, the incomparable Charlie Reed noted that a pet peeve of his was the input-based rankings that pressure schools to spend money, and give no credit for having high proportions of poor and minority students.

I piped up, as usual, saying partial relief is on the way, and that CCAP is teaming with Forbes to bring out the Forbes rankings of colleges, looking at such things as student satisfaction with instructors and post-graduate vocational distinction. I blasted the US News rankings in the process, earning a moderately stern rebuke from Ben Wildavsky, a good friend and former US News college guru. Later I got support from others (Peter McPherson of NASCLGU) who despise the US News rankings. The issue even got briefly discussed in a private dinner I attended with Secretary of Education Spellings.

I do not despise the US NEWS rankings. They are well done and meet a consumer need. They have served a great purpose --the public craving for information. But they are incorrectly constructed from the standpoint of what matters --what the consumers think and how they perform.

In any case, CCAP is working hard with Forbes to see that rankings appear, within the next month or so on Stay tuned.


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