Deans protest U.S. News and World Report college rankings system

Five Big 12 schools signed a letter protesting the system, though MU was not among them.

Deans from across the country, including several Big 12 Conference members, are protesting against a change in the U.S. News and World Report's ranking system for schools of education which could list some schools as failing to meet education standards when they do not respond to researchers. The report is co-sponsored by the U.S. News and World Report and National Council on Teacher Quality.

In the past when schools did not participate, they would not be listed in the report. Instead, U.S. News and World Report Editor Brian Kelly made the decision to list the non-participating schools with an "estimated" rating.

In a letter to the U.S. News and World Report, college of education deans called the change a diversion from the ethical standards of the organization which will cast doubt on the results on the entire evaluation.

"This is contrary to U.S. News practices with every other professional evaluation that it has conducted," the deans wrote, "We are concerned that such a practice is also inconsistent with professional journalistic practices and will call into question the legitimacy of U.S. News' reports."

The letter was signed by 37 different education officials from 36 education institutions including Iowa State University, The University of Kansas and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Many of the schools have mentioned boycotting the rankings all together; MU is not one of them. Jay Scribner, MU Department Chair of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, said he didn't know why MU hadn't signed on with the other schools.

Scribner said the College of Education is going to participate in the rankings at this time and the rankings will have an impact on prospective students who are looking to attend MU.

"We live in an era of lists and polls, some students would look to polls and lists to get information and decide schools," Scribner said. "If one school is ranked higher they might consider that school more than another school."

The deans also called into question the methodology of the rankings. The rankings are given on the basis of several factors, including selectivity of admissions, how well teachers are trained to teach certain subjects, syllabuses of courses and the quality of classroom management skills.

The NCTQ was quick to respond to the criticisms.

NCTQ President Kate Walsh said in a letter to the education deans that programs are certainly free to reserve the right to not participate in the rankings, but should be prepared to still be included in the rankings.

"Programs are certainly free to refuse to cooperate, but doing so frees us to render our judgment about programs that produce teachers for our country's children," Walsh said in the letter. "We feel that the review will suffer if we allow those education schools that fear our review to avoid it, as the public would be left with the ratings of a self-selected group of schools that are not afraid of what our report may say."

Scribner said he thought that because the U.S. News and World Report is a private institution, they were not accountable to make a change.

"I think that they can do whatever they want," Scribner said. "They are a private institution, the rankings have never been complete."

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