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U.S. News escalates battle over rankings, saying ‘elite’ colleges don’t speak for higher ed

U.S. News escalates battle over rankings, saying ‘elite’ colleges don’t speak for higher ed

Higher Ed Dive

Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
March 6, 2023
The CEO and executive chair of U.S. News & World Report delivered an impassioned defense of the magazine’s rankings last week, arguing the prominent colleges snubbing them “don’t want to be held accountable by an independent third party.”
Eric Gertler’s missive in The Wall Street Journal escalates a three-month feud over the rankings as dozens of law and medical schools have withdrawn, accusing U.S. News of valuing prestige ahead of academic quality. The U.S. education secretary also recently took a stand against the rankings, prompting the publication to go on the defensive.
Gertler wrote in the Journal last week that U.S. News’ rankings represent one of the few sources where students can find “accurate, comprehensive information” on colleges.
The rankings do not capture colleges’ every nuance, he wrote, and comparing institutions across common data sets can prove challenging. But he rejected criticism that the rankings contribute to a decline in campus diversity or opaqueness in college admissions, as some opponents have suggested.
Gertler instead insinuated some law school deans are seeking to sidestep the fallout of an expected ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that would restrict race-conscious admissions “by reducing their emphasis on test scores and grades — criteria used in our rankings.”
“By refusing to participate, elite schools are opting out of an important discussion about what constitutes the best education for students, while implying that excellence and important goals like diversity are mutually exclusive,” Gertler wrote.
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