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ERIC Number: ED536277
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 52
Abstractor: ERIC
College Rankings: History, Criticism and Reform
Myers, Luke; Robe, Jonathan
Center for College Affordability and Productivity (NJ1)
Today, college quality rankings in news magazines and guidebooks are a big business with tangible impacts on the operation of higher education institutions. The college rankings published annually by "U.S. News and World Report" ("U.S. News") are so influential that Don Hossler of Indiana University derisively claims that higher education is the victim of "management" by the magazine. How did academic quality rankings of colleges and universities become so powerful in higher education? A review of their historical development in the first section of this study may surprise many readers. While college professors and administrators alike largely decry rankings today, their origin lies in academia itself. Begun as esoteric studies by lone professors, college rankings' development into the most popularly accepted assessment of academic quality was fueled by the very institutions of higher education they now judge. While the purpose and design of academic quality rankings has evolved during the century since their creation, their history teaches one clear lesson: college rankings fill a strong consumer demand for information about institutional quality, and as such, are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Various approaches to college rankings have different benefits and each is subject to legitimate criticism, all of which should be seriously considered in light of the powerful effects that a widely-distributed ranking can have on institutions of higher education and the students seeking to enter them. Sections II and III will explore these aspects of college rankings, respectively. In light of the historical lessons revealed in Section I, however, movements that seek to reform college rankings should be focused on producing "better" rankings, rather than on trying to eliminate or ignore them. Section IV will survey multiple new indicators of academic quality that many view as potential improvements over the indicators upon which current college rankings are based. (Contains 2 figures, 6 tables, and 116 endnotes.)
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP)
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A