Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More On Rankings

by Jonathan Leirer

On the eve of the release of the infamous US News and World Reports Rankings of America’s Best Colleges, Inside Higher Ed has an article criticizing the use of reputation surveys in the ranking methodology. The issues raised are nothing new; indeed, it seems that every year these complaints are reissued. While we have a great respect for Bob Morse, and applaud the idea of trying to give students more information with which to make such a monumental life choice, we agree that there are some serious flaws in the methodology. However, instead of merely adding our voice to the chorus, we at CCAP took our criticism one step further.

Taking to heart the criticisms and pitfalls of the USNWR rankings, CCAP, in conjunction with Forbes, created their own college rankings – rankings that would not add to the so-called “academic arms race” nor encourage the precipitous increases in costs. Rather than relying on the dubious responses of college presidents and provost (or, as the article shows, other administrators such as the vice provost for teaching and learning) we decided to rely on outcome based variables. As such, our rankings are largely insulated from the noteworthy “gaming”, where institutions invest in activities that will increase their USNWR ranking but not actual quality or outcomes, sometimes bordering on deceitful or immoral practices.


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