The Ivy Coach Daily

October 10, 2022

Change to US News College Rankings Formula

US News & World Report has changed up its college ranking formula.

US News & World Report, long the kingpin of the college rankings, has made a change to its rankings formula. That’s right. The era of test-optional admissions has spurred change at the publication behind the most influential college ranking. And why? Because US News had to figure out how to compare apples to apples rather than apples to oranges. If certain colleges are reporting such small pools of test scores while other colleges are reporting bigger pools of test scores, how could they stack them up against one another in this category fairly?

As Laura Spitalniak reports for Higher Ed Dive in a piece entitled “U.S. News rankings don’t ding colleges for lacking SAT and ACT data in nod to test-optional growth,” “This year’s change doesn’t completely remove standardized test scores from the rankings’ equation. They still count for colleges reporting scores for a majority of first-year students. For colleges that reported SAT and ACT scores for less than half of their incoming fall 2021 classes, U.S. News first sought to use standardized test scores from the previous year where available…U.S. News said it made the change in response to the pandemic depressing supply and demand for the SAT and ACT, especially among low-income students. The publication maintains that its rankings are objective and fair.”

So what does this mean for the rankings? If there is anything that we know, it’s that America’s elite colleges will go to great lengths to manipulate the all-important US News college rankings — which is their right to do. So if a college believes reporting SAT and ACT scores will benefit its ranking, the school will try to admit a class in which a majority of students report test scores. On the other hand, if a college believes SAT and ACT scores will hurt its ranking, the school will admit a class in which less than 50% of students submit scores. In short, the admissions offices of America’s elite colleges will be running the data before admissions decisions roll out to figure out whether a majority of students will be reporting scores, a majority will not be reporting scores, and which of the two options serves them best.

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