U.S. News & World Report’s director of data research has an interesting column today on
how and why one university has tumbled in its “Best Colleges” rankings.
Robert Morse points out that over 2010 t0 2014, Howard University fell from 96th to 142nd on U.S. News’ university rankings — 46 spots. In the past year alone, Howard dropped 22 spots from 120th in 2013.
There are two broad reasons that Morse cites to explain Howard’s fall. The first is that the school’s scores in a variety of rankable criteria have declined:
The school dropped from being in the top 100 in the 2010 edition to today’s position because its ranking scores in academic peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, student selectivity, faculty resources, alumni giving and graduation rate performance all fell relative to other schools in the National Universities rankings.
The indicators where Howard’s performance deteriorated since 2010 account for a total of 82.5 per cent of the U.S. News ranking model. In other words, Howard experienced declines in almost all of the key academic indicators used by U.S. News, which resulted in its drop in the rankings.
Additionally, Morse reports, Howard has declined to fill out U.S. News’ statistical survey for the past two reporting cycles, which provides the basis for much of its rankings. In order to complete this year’s rankings, U.S. News was forced to estimate stats such as alumni giving rate using data from previous years.
“Therefore, Howard’s decline in the most recent rankings was mainly due to its administrative inability or refusal to report its most recent data about itself to U.S. News,” Morse writes.
U.S. News’ college rankings are often derided, but can help change public opinion in a school, for better or for worse. They are seen as so important by some people that Howard’s recent drop has been cited as a reason for university president Sidney A. Ribeau’s abrupt retirement announcement last Tuesday.
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