Beyond Rankings

August 17, 2010

Kevin Carey of Education Sector has written a good piece today on what’s wrong with the rankings.  He calls the USN&WR rankings “deeply flawed” because “the magazine’s rankings are almost entirely a function of three factors: fame, wealth, and exclusivity. They directly or indirectly account for 95 percent of a school’s ranking.”

He proposes a new set of rankings based on data on teaching, learning and success in life beyond graduation (much, much  better than fame, wealth and exclusivity). These imagined new rankings would use data from the National Survey of Student Engagement and the Collegiate Learning Assessment.  Two comments on his proposal:

(1) Assembling and displaying data from sources like NSSE and CLA are a great idea.  Earlham, by the way, participates in both and makes our data from both available to all via our website.  Access to data on learning outcomes from various sources is here.

(2) On the other hand, there still would be no reason to produce a single, linear ranking of all colleges and universities.  Remember, missions differ, and a college that is a good choice for one student is not necessarily a good choice foir another.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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