In recent months, four colleges admitted to misreporting data to U.S. News & World Report for our college rankings. Most recently, Tulane University's MBA program said that it had misreported data that were used for our business school rankings.
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about these instances of misreporting.
Why are we seeing this now?
The disclosure of the misreporting was by three colleges and a business school. Although these are isolated cases, each reflects an acknowledgement by schools that reporting accurate data to a variety of sources is essential to the schools' integrity.
Data have become more important, not less, to parents, students, alumni, academic researchers, boards of directors, the federal government and, ultimately, the schools' reputation. In some cases the misreported data were also given to the U.S. Department of Education and other groups like bond rating agencies.
Read more details about how U.S. News handled data misreporting by these four institutions:
• Tulane University: Tulane Freeman School of Business Misreported Some Admissions Data
• George Washington University: Update to George Washington University's 2013 Best Colleges Ranking and FAQs on George Washington University's Data Misreporting
• Claremont McKenna College: Correcting Claremont McKenna's 2010 Admissions Statistics
What's the cause of the problem?
Each case is different, and each school has provided an explanation as to what caused the misreporting. See the links above for more information about each school.
Do you believe that there are other schools that have misreported data to U.S. News but have not come forward?
We have no reason to believe that other schools have misreported data—and we therefore have no reason to believe that the misreporting is widespread.
What are the consequences for schools that misreport data?
In the cases where the misreported data improved a school's numerical ranking, we have dropped that school from our rankings tables for the current year of the rankings where the misreported data were originally included.
The school is dropped from the rankings until at least the time that the next edition of the rankings is published. We restore the school to the next year's ranking when it has provided assurances that the data it is providing are accurate.