I've been suspecting this for quite a while now, especially when I started to investigate how much law school tuition costs and looked into who owns U.S. News & World Report. It turns out that Democratic Party supporter and tycoon Mortimer Zuckerman is the current owner and publisher of this website. The Washington Post published an article on February 6, 2013 which exposes the fact that several colleges have submitted incorrect test scores or embellished their freshman class high school ranking to improve their national ranking.
Read More: Five colleges misreported data to U.S. News, raising concerns about rankings, reputation
Tulane University officials were preparing to send statistics to U.S. News & World Report for its annual graduate school rankings when they noticed something peculiar in early December: sharp drops in admissions test scores and applications to their business school.
Their curiosity became alarm and then embarrassment, as the New Orleans university discovered and disclosed that the business school’s admissions figures from previous years had been falsified. Soon afterward, Bucknell University in Pennsylvania announced that for several years it had reported inflated SAT scores for incoming students.
These and similar revelations in the past year have come from Claremont McKenna College in California, Emory University in Atlanta and George Washington University in the District. In each case, the highly regarded schools acknowledged that they had submitted incorrect test scores or overstated the high school rankings of their incoming freshmen.
There is obviously a lack of oversight within these national college rankings and should be taken with a grain of salt. The college industry has become such a racket that they are now resorting to lowlife tactics like this to convince students to apply and enroll in their schools for the sake of ranking and name.
The article continues with this.
“Rankings have become omnipresent in higher education, and they have enhanced the competition among institutions,” said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education, which represents university presidents. “And in any highly competitive environment, there is always a temptation to cut corners.”
In some of the recent cases, college officials said an employee intentionally submitted inaccurate data. In others, it was unclear whether the mistake was intentional. GWU attributed its errors to a flaw in data-reporting systems that dated back a decade.
A survey of 576 college admissions officers conducted by Gallup in the summer for the online news outlet Inside Higher Ed found that 91 percent think other colleges had falsely reported standardized test scores and other admissions data. A few said their own college had done so.
“There’s definitely a widespread feeling that this goes well beyond those that have been caught or come forward,” said Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed’s editor.
U.S. News Editor Brian Kelly said the number of schools that have corrected their record is “a pretty small universe,” which he considers a sign that reporting problems are not pervasive. He said he would not be surprised if a few more cases emerged.
“If it was a stampede, I would be surprised,” Kelly said, “and that might cause us to rethink some things.”
Kelly acknowledged that a string of revelations from five prominent colleges is unusual. But he said the disclosures should strengthen consumer confidence in U.S. News rankings because they show that schools take the data seriously.
This seems fairly obvious. With the soaring cost of college tuition and an abysmal economy, these colleges are being pressured into resorting to such embellishment in order to make their schools more attractive to the general public. It's another way in which these government guaranteed student loans are having a greater negative effect than previously thought, even though there will always be people in the education industry who are willing to make a quick profit by any means necessary.
Here is how U.S News & World Report conducts their rankings according to the article.
The U.S. News rankings, a major force in higher education since the 1980s, sort colleges and universities into various lists, such as best in the nation, best in a region and best value.
The rankings are based on complex formulas that U.S. News invented and that it tweaks from time to time. Inputs include surveys of college leaders and college counselors, as well as statistics on graduation rates, class size, faculty salaries, alumni giving and admissions test scores. U.S. News says these formulas help consumers get information they need and want before they choose a school.
Critics contend the rankings are highly subjective and give students a misleading sense that the college experience can be boiled down to numbers. Some colleges refuse to participate in U.S. News surveys — and receive rankings anyway.
U.S. News has said that 92 percent of 1,391 ranked colleges and universities returned its surveys last year. Some colleges have declined to participate because they say the rankings are counterproductive.
“We just don’t want to play their game and fill out their forms,” said Christopher Nelson, president of St. John’s College in Annapolis. He said he couldn’t care less that his school is No. 133 on a U.S. News national liberal arts list. “I’d rather be in a place that’s unranked.”
The critics have it completely correct in this situation. College rankings are misleading and give people the wrong impression that if you go to a highly ranked college that finding good employment will be much more of a guarantee. Even in that situation, it still depends on what kind of a degree one gets.
There is another page to this story, which I will also quote from, summarize, and add my own thoughts.
Claremont McKenna and Emory, both ranked highly on U.S. News lists, revealed last year that they overstated admission test scores and other data related to incoming students that made them appear more selective. GWU said it had overstated the high school class rank of its students, leading U.S. News in November to strip the D.C. school of its ranking, which had been 51st among national universities.
Tulane’s discovery of missteps came in December. The dean of the university’s Freeman School of Business, relatively new to his position, alerted top university officials about possible misreporting of data. They hired the law firm Jones Day to investigate.
That review found that the statistical profile of full-time students in the master’s of business administration program had been wrongly reported from 2007 to 2011. Average Graduate Management Admission Test scores had been “falsely increased” by an average of 35 points on an exam that has a maximum score of 800, the review concluded, and the number of completed applications had been exaggerated to make the school look more selective than it was.
Tulane said the evidence implicated a former business school employee whom it would not identify. “This was not inadvertent,” Tulane Provost Michael A. Bernstein said. “It was a goal-oriented manipulation.”
The business school, which U.S. News had ranked 43rd in the nation for full-time MBA programs, is now unranked. Bernstein said such incidents are especially painful for all of the university officials, students and faculty who are committed to academic honesty.
“When you discover an error, if you discover a lack of integrity, you’ve got to put a bright light on it and clean it up,” Bernstein said.
The most striking part about this story is that these aren't obscure colleges. This problem is being reported in the most reputable of colleges out there and it's even more reason to take caution with these national rankings. One could be potentially helping out the bankers and the bureaucrats who run these educational facilities in their questionable motives to scam the student out of four years of their life.
The rest of the article continues to discuss the skewed statistics and data embellishments that were found in several other national rankings.