Education Law

How widespread is issue of misreporting admissions data to US News?


Five prominent colleges and universities have disclosed during the past year or so that they misreported admissions data to U.S. News and World Report for its college rankings or, in one institution’s case, the magazine’s business school rankings. In some instances, the misreporting was admittedly intentional.

And although an editor of the magazine—also known for its controversial law school rankings—says he believes the misreporting problem is not widespread, a recent survey suggests there could be a bigger problem, according to the Washington Post.

Last summer, Inside Higher Ed had Gallup conduct a survey of 576 college admissions officers. A little over 90 percent said they think other colleges provided false information about applicants’ standardized test scores and other data related to admissions, and a few even admitted their own institutions had misreported information.

“There’s definitely a widespread feeling that this goes well beyond those that have been caught or come forward,” said editor Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed.

However, editor Brian Kelly of U.S. News tells the newspaper he doesn’t believe the misreporting issue is pervasive. While a few other institutions might correct their records after last year’s revelations by Bucknell University, Claremont McKenna College, Emory University, George Washington University and Tulane University, “If it was a stampede, I would be surprised,” he said.

Kelly also said any blame for the problem should focus on those responsible: “These are institutions that teach ethics,” he told the Post. “If they can’t keep their own house in order, they’ve got a problem. It’s their problem, not my problem.”

Several law schools have also come forward in recent years to admit similar admissions data misreporting to US News, resulting in increased efforts to insure that such data is correct.

Private educational institutions are apparently more apt to face such issues; while public institutions aren’t immune, their data is more subject to scrutiny by government officials and others, the Post notes.

However, there would be an easy way to resolve the problem for all concerned, suggests the admissions dean for Texas Christian University. Raymond A. Brown says he sleeps soundly at night because, for the past decade, TCU’s admissions data has been reviewed by an auditor.

A Monday post on the Morse Code blog of U.S. News & World Report details misreporting by Bucknell.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “U of Illinois Law School Is Publicly Censured by the ABA, Fined for Misreporting Admissions Data”

ABAJournal.com: “Law Schools Asked to Double Check: Did They Give ABA Low Numbers on Student Debt?”

ABAJournal.com: “Dean Says Villanova Bounced Back After Admissions Data Scandal; Incoming 2011 Class Set LSAT Record”

ABAJournal.com: “Former Law School Employee Says in Sworn Statement She Was Pressured to Inflate Graduates’ Job Stats”

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