Scott Jaschik reports today about a new study of the famed U.S. News and World Report rankings of colleges.
New research raises additional questions about the “reputational” survey that is worth 25 percent (more than any other factor) on the U.S. News & World Report rankings of colleges.
What the research found is that the reputational scores don’t correlate with changes in factors such as resources or graduation rates, but correlate with the previous year’s rankings. In other words, the way you get a good reputational score — and in turn a good ranking — is to already have a good ranking.
This finding is potentially significant because the reputational survey is one of the most criticized parts of the U.S. News rankings, and frustrated college officials have long said that they think the survey largely reflects old reputations and in effect rewards colleges for having once been thought of as good, not for actually being particularly good (or improving) in a given year. The new research — published in the American Journal of Education (University of Chicago Press) — appears to back up that complaint.
Interesting stuff. You may recall that I whined a bit about the US News rankings of history graduate programs back in April.