In August 2006, the newsmagazine U.S. News and World Report published new lists of “America’s Best Colleges,” as it has every summer since it launched its college and university rankings in 1983. If past editions are a measure, the magazine will sell millions of copies of the latest report to students and parents eager to find the best possible place to pursue a higher education in a world where economic opportunity is increasingly defined by the learning that students obtain beyond high school. Today, more than two-thirds of new high- school graduates go directly to college, compared to fewer than half in the early 1970s.
Many other ranking reports and often- bulky guides to college admissions, including those from Barron’s , Peterson’s, and the Princeton Review, crowd book shelves and magazine racks. But U.S. News dominates the market for higher-education information. Applications and alumni donations rise and fall with the magazine’s ratings, and many colleges and universities work assiduously to move up the U.S. News ranking ladders.
The U.S. News rankings have become the nation’s de facto higher education accountability system—evaluating colleges and universities on a common scale and creating strong incentives for institutions to do things that raise their ratings.
But the U.S. News ranking system is deeply flawed. Instead of focusing on the fundamental issues of how well colleges and universities educate their students and how well they prepare them to be successful after college, 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, as Table 1 reveals.
Lees het volledige stuk met de achtergronddocumentatie op de pagina Forum in het podium Rankings en Studiekeuze
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