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April 29, 2010
Officials at just one school to date, University of Alabama's law school, have told U.S. News that they made errors reporting some of their data that were used in the newly published America's Best Graduate Schools 2011 rankings. U.S. News won't recalculate the rankings because of this or any mistake made by the schools, but we are soon going to correct the data on our website.
University of Alabama officials were too late in reporting the information used to calculate the percentage of their 2008 graduating class that was employed, which affected the new law school rankings. U.S. News received the correct data from University of Alabama's law school after the rankings were completed and published. University of Alabama's correct rate for 2008 law graduates employed at graduation is 92.1 percent. The University of Alabama law school received an estimate in the law school ranking model for this value and it was published as N/A or not available.
University of Alabama's law schools would have ranked higher, had its actual at graduation employment rate data had been used in the rankings instead of an estimate.
If other schools have made errors in their rankings data and they notify U.S. News via E-mail at email@example.com, U.S. News will explain the error in this blog and then correct the data online.
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April 22, 2010
For the second time, U.S. News is asking high school counselors for their views on undergraduate programs at U.S. colleges and universities. New this year, as part of this same survey, U.S. News is asking counselors to choose up to 20 colleges from their geographic region that are tops at educating undergraduates.
High school counselors across the country have told U.S. News countless times that their views should be included in our America's Best Colleges rankings, and we're listening. Counselors say that they have a considerable amount of knowledge about the college admissions process and that they have highly informed opinions on many colleges in their region and nationwide.
We agree. We think that counselors have broad experience and expertise that is needed to assess the academic quality of colleges and universities given their role in assisting prospective students and their parents as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. U.S. News is also doing this counselor survey in order to obtain opinions on the relative merits of colleges from a much larger, diverse group of higher education experts. U.S. News will continue to survey college presidents, admissions deans, and provosts as part of our America's Best Colleges rankings.
As a result, U.S. News has asked a select group of public high school counselors their opinion of undergraduate programs at colleges and universities. U.S.News & World Report hopes to be able to publish the results from this survey in the 2011 edition of America's Best Colleges, which will be published in August 2010.
[Visit America's Best Colleges to see the current high school counselor rankings.]
The high school counselors we are asking to participate are all from the nearly 1,800 U.S. public high schools nationwide that made the December 2009 U.S.News & World Report's America's Best High Schools rankings. One U.S. News survey to rate colleges in the national universities category is being sent to high school counselors at 900 of these America's Best High Schools nationwide, and a separate survey to rate colleges in the liberal arts colleges category is being sent to high school counselors at the other 900 America's Best High Schools. Each survey has a section for counselors to pick up to 20 colleges from within their high school's region—North, South, Midwest or West—that do an excellent job educating undergraduates.
The Chronicle of Higher Education's Eric Hoover has written a post on this: College Rankings and College Counselors Meet Again.
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April 15, 2010
The new America's Best Graduate Schools 2011 edition has been published, and the rankings are now live online. The site has the most complete version of the rankings, tables, and lists and also has extensive profiles of more than 1,200 programs.
Highlights of the graduate school rankings are scheduled for publication in the May print issue of U.S.News & World Report, available for newsstand purchase as of April 27. The America's Best Graduate Schools guidebook will be available for purchase as of April 20.
The most comprehensive version, including all the extended rankings, robust searches and the most complete data is only available in the Premium Online Edition of America's Best Graduate Schools. For the methodologies and other details, see About the Rankings.
Notable highlights include the following:
As in the past, we have new rankings in the five largest professional graduate school disciplines: business, law, education, engineering, and medicine, and the various specialties associated with those disciplines.
This year, we have improved and modified both our part-time J.D. and part-time M.B.A. program rankings. U.S. News's new part-time law rankings are based on a 5.0-scale peer assessment survey, median LSAT scores, and median undergraduate grade-point average for fall 2009 entering part-time students, and an exclusive part-time J.D. curriculum index that measures the extent to which a law school offers a rich part-time program to its students. U.S. News's previous part-time law school rankings were based solely on the number of times a part-time program was nominated to be among the 10 top programs. Meanwhile, U.S. News's new part-time M.B.A. rankings are based on a 5.0-scale peer assessment survey. Previously, the part-time M.B.A. ranking methodology was based solely on the number of times a part-time program was nominated to be among the 10 top programs.
Also new are updated peer-assessment-only rankings for science Ph.D. programs in biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, earth sciences, mathematics, physics, and statistics. This is the first time U.S. News is ranking Ph.D. programs in statistics. These rankings are based solely on the rating of academics at statistics and biostatistics departments. There also are updated rankings in various specialties associated with these Ph.D. disciplines.
It has come to our attention, since the law rankings were published, that at least one law school might have submitted incomplete data to U.S. News. We are studying these situations very carefully and will have more to say next week.
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April 8, 2010
In a recent entry in the Concurring Opinions blog , written by George Washington law professor Daniel Solove, titled How to Fill Out the U.S. News Law School Rankings Form, he ponders the serious question about how academics should fill out the reputation survey, which accounts for 25 percent of the overall law school ranking methodology.
Solove writes, "Every year, U.S. News compiles its law school rankings by relying heavily on reputation ratings by law professors (mainly deans and associate deans) and practitioners and judges. They are asked to assign a score (from 1 to 5) for the roughly 200 law schools on the form. A 5 is the highest score and a 1 is the lowest. While many factors that go into the U.S. News rankings have been criticized, the reputation ratings, by and large, are considered one of the best components in the rankings system. But should it be? Does anyone have any advice for our poor dean? How are people to fill out the U.S. News ranking forms in good faith to accurately reflect their sense of law school reputations?"
The widely read Wall Street Journal's Law Blog also weighs in on the topic of the U.S. News law school reputation survey in a recent post: Is the U.S. News Ranking Methodology Too Simple?
Blogger Ashby Jones writes, "The U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of U.S. law schools has become the legal academy's favorite punching bag. Every year, about this time, folks start criticizing the survey's methodologies, reiterating how easy it is for schools to game the system. (At the same time, few can question the survey's importance.)"
Both blog posts asked me to weigh in on how the U.S. News law school reputation survey works, why we only use a five-point scale, and whether the system U.S. News uses offers enough choices for raters. U.S. News believes that using a five-point scale is appropriate for the level of knowledge that respondents at each law school have about other schools.
It should be remembered that U.S. News is averaging the ratings of all the respondents for each law school. The results for each school are published at the one decimal point level, not at the whole number. Therefore, the averaging produces a great deal of granularity in the final academic reputation results. Because the overall U.S. News law school rankings are based on a combination of 12 factors, we believe we have enough varied indicators of academic quality to produce rankings that accurately show the comparable standing of one law school versus other law schools.
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April 1, 2010
U.S. News is hard at work on the upcoming college rankings.
We recently starting collecting the statistical data used for the 2011 edition of our America's Best Colleges rankings, which will be published in August 2010. Data collection for the three U.S. News statistical surveys—Main, Financial Aid, and Finance—began on March 19. These surveys gather information on such factors as enrollment, faculty, tuition, room and board, SAT and ACT scores, admissions criteria, graduation and retention rates, college majors, activities and sports. This data is used in the college rankings, college guidebooks, and the college section of usnews.com.
More than 1,500 U.S. colleges received a notification e-mail from U.S. News with details on how to access our online surveys. All four-year bachelor's degree granting U.S. colleges should have received surveys; if you are from a college that did not receive the data collection survey notice, please contact Vachelle Manly, the U.S. News data collection manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are from a college and you have questions about the U.S. News college rankings, ranking methodology, or any of the U.S. News education publications, contact me at email@example.com.
U.S. News works on the college rankings 12 months a year. We hold and attend meetings throughout the year with higher education experts in order to listen to their suggestions and criticisms, as well as to understand the latest campus trends. These consultations with college presidents, deans, institutional researchers, and high school counselors give us an opportunity to gather feedback on our ranking methodology. These conferences and meetings are also an important source of story ideas.
We would like to thank all the colleges that participate in our current America's Best Colleges data collection. We fully understand that it takes a lot of work to fill out surveys and we appreciate the efforts that colleges take to provide us with the most accurate data available.