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June 26, 2008
More ideas have come in on ways to improve the U.S. News law schools rankings. U.S. News is seriously studying these two ideas for implementation in the upcoming rankings. Please weigh in with your views.
The first idea is that U.S. News should count both full-time and part-time entering student admission data for median LSAT scores and median undergraduate grade-point averages in calculating the school's ranking. U.S. News's current law school ranking methodology counts only full-time entering student data. Many people have told us that some law schools operate part-time J.D. programs for the purpose of enrolling students who have far lower LSAT and undergrad GPAs than the students admitted to the full-time program in order to boost their admission data reported to U.S. News and the ABA. In other words, many contend that these aren't truly separate part-time programs but merely a vehicle to raise a law school's LSAT and undergrad GPA for its U.S. News ranking. We have used only full-time program data because we believed that the part-time law programs were truly separate from the full-time ones. That no longer appears to be the case at many law schools. So, it can be argued that it is better analytically to compare the LSAT and undergrad GPAs of the entire entering class at all schools rather than just the full-time program data.
Another idea was proposed in the 1998 report "The Validity of the U.S. News and World Report Rankings of ABA Law Schools" commissioned by the Association of American Law Schools. The proposal calls for U.S. News to compute our bar passage rate component (school's bar pass rate/jurisdiction's bar passage rate) using only the data of first-time takers who are graduates of American Bar Association-accredited schools. Currently, our "jurisdiction's bar passage rate" uses the rate of all first-time test takers from a state regardless of the ABA accreditation of their law schools. This distinction is perhaps most meaningful for the state of California, which has a large number of non-ABA-accredited schools. Many people say the non-ABA students are causing the California pass rate to be lower than if calculated just from first-time test takers from ABA-accredited schools. Because we rank only ABA-accredited schools, it makes sense that we should compare only ABA graduates when doing the bar passage rate analysis. If U.S. News implements this idea, the method would be used for all states.
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June 20, 2008
In our ongoing effort to make our America's Best Colleges guide as useful and informative as possible to our readers, U.S. News plans two new features for the upcoming 2009 edition of the America's Best Colleges rankings to be published on Aug. 22, 2008, on usnews.com.
The first one is in response to the criticisms that say the academic peer assessment survey filled out by college administrators is too slow to pick up improvements at colleges. U.S. News asked top academics in spring 2008 to name schools that they think are "Up and Coming Institutions." College presidents, provosts, and admission deans were asked to nominate up to 10 colleges that are making improvements in academics, faculty, students, campus life, diversity, and facilities. These schools are worth watching because they are making promising and innovative changes. This question on the survey enabled college officials to pick schools that are rapidly evolving in ways that the public should be aware of. We think the public and academia will be very interested in the results.
Second, U.S.News & World Report in spring 2008 for the first time asked a nationwide cross section of public school high school counselors for their views on undergraduate programs at American colleges and universities in our national universities and liberal arts colleges ranking categories. How will U.S.News & World Report use these new ranking data? We are going to publish the findings in the upcoming America's Best Colleges issue of the magazine, available in August 2008. We believe strongly that the opinions that high schools counselors, who play a key role in the college admission process, have about the merits of the nation's leading colleges will provide a very valuable source of information for prospective students, their parents, and our readers.
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June 12, 2008
The rapidly growing worldwide interest in university rankings has led to the formation of the first international organization dedicated to the field. U.S. News is very proud to be a member of the recently created International Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence, formed in April. (I'm on the executive committee.)
The group grew out of the International Ranking Experts Group, which was formed in 2004 in Washington. This new group is a truly global body whose members are leading rankers and analysts in their countries. Members of the executive committee are from Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Shanghai; Warsaw; Toronto; Gütersloh, Germany; Washington; Astana , Kazakhstan; Bratislava, the Slovak Republic; London; Maribor, Slovenia; and Kiev, Ukraine. More countries and members will be added soon.
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June 5, 2008
I have just returned from the 2008 International Symposium: Rankings in Higher Education on the Global and National Stages organized by the Higher Education and Accreditation Council of Taiwan held in Taipei, Taiwan. There were participants from Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Holland, and Malaysia.
I spoke on the U.S. News's America's Best Colleges rankings and what impact those rankings have had in the U.S. and what some of the implications of our ranking experience were for universities in Taiwan and that nation's possible college rankings.