Paul L. Caron

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Two Perspectives On The Growing U.S. News Rankings Boycott

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:  Medical Schools Bail on Academic Merit and Intellectual Rigor, by Ira Stoll (Education Next):

U.S. News Generic (2020)To see how the diversity, equity and inclusion mania is colliding with meritocracy in American higher education, pay attention to the flap over graduate schools pulling out of the U.S. News rankings. Readers who aren’t applying to medical school may have missed the controversy. But anyone who plans on seeing a doctor or benefiting from research or treatment at an academic medical center has an interest in the outcome.

So far, U.S. News has resisted demands from the graduate schools to base the rankings on equity rather than on the grades and test scores of incoming students. U.S. News has been transparent about the method it uses for its rankings, including factors such as a reputation survey, MCAT scores and grade point averages of incoming students.

The medical schools have been similarly clear about why they disagree with the U.S. News method and will stop participating. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in a Jan. 24 statement, said the U.S. News rankings undermine the school’s “commitment to anti-racism” and “outreach to diverse communities.” ...

U.S. News already does provide a list ranking universities that have the most racial and ethnic diversity among students. The medical school deans and the activists pushing them, however, apparently won’t be satisfied until test scores and grades are totally eliminated from the rankings, replaced by a commitment to anti-racism and diversity, equity and inclusion, which are less easily quantified.

[T]he U.S. News fight ... exemplifies a debate about the definition of excellence. Is the measure of quality doing better in school and on tests? Or is it having the correct representation of skin color, suitably impoverished background and ideological commitment?

Sure, being a good doctor is more complicated than a test score. Softer skills, such as empathy, listening and relationship-building, matter. But advances in health and high-quality care also depend on measurable intellectual rigor. If that is abandoned in favor of trendy ideological conformity, the consequences for higher education, for patients and for the nation could be deadly.

Los Angeles Times Editorial, A Welcome Revolt Against the Flawed College Ranking System:

A handful of top medical schools, including Stanford and Columbia, pulled out of U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings in January, following a similar exodus of more than a dozen law schools, including UC Berkeley, Yale and Harvard, late last year. It’s a welcome development that is overdue. Undergraduate institutions and other graduate schools should follow this lead.

For too long, colleges and universities have played along with the rankings process that is based on flawed methodology and prizes wealth and reputation over educational quality, even though many education leaders have criticized the fairness and validity of the rankings. ...

The U.S. News & World Report guide reviews hundreds of colleges and universities based on criteria such as standardized test scores and class rank of incoming students, alumni giving rate, reputation and graduation rates. Though U.S. News has made changes over the years to its methodology, deans and other faculty complain that the rankings still fail to consider important indicators about the quality of education their schools offer, and are counterproductive to their goals, particularly for enrolling a diverse student body and encouraging public service. ...

U.S. News & World Report, which bills itself as an authority on education rankings, has made some changes in response to the criticism. But it should overhaul its methodology and produce an annual report that is less about rank and more about providing truly useful information. Until then, schools that continue to submit their data to the publication are complicit in a system that can too easily mislead students and families.

U.S. News coverage:


U.S. News Response to Boycott

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