Ranking Colleges: The Washington Monthly Vs. US News

There's a big set of stories in the latest Washington Monthly that I, alas, had little to do with but nonetheless found very interesting.

As has in the past, looking at community service and other iindicators, the Monthly is valiantly trying to find ways to measure colleges that highlight the impact of the college -- not the SES and previous learning of its students. (MIT comes in first.) The chart goes one step further, comparing Monthly rankings to USNews rankings. (UC Riverside wins this one.)

It's funny to think that the universities who found the USNews rankings so objectionable for so many years might find these alternative ways of measuring schools even more problematic, especially on the eve of the Higher Ed reauthorization and resurgent ideas about measuring the impact of colleges on the Hilll. Speaking of which, the latest version of the Miller report on higher education reform is out (PDF) I don't have as much confidence as Inside Higher Ed that its findings will have an impact, no matter who signs on.


Blogger Mr. R said...

Is there really any point in complaining about the ranking of schools like this at all? Or, would it just be a waste of breath?

3:04 PM  
Blogger Alexander Russo said...

we're all about complaints here, mr. r -- as long as it's not about complaining about the usnews, which is old.

what struck you as off about the monthly's listing?

3:10 PM  
Blogger Mr. R said...

I guess I just have a general question about the role that these ranking are supposed to play. I know that high school students across the country use them to decide which of their potential schools are "better" and that schools use the rankings to decide if they are improving or declining as a school.

I just wish there was a way to shift the focus of school rankings from the idea of "this school is better" to the idea of "this school is better for me".

I realize that this is not an original complaint nor one that can be addressed easily. Just something that bothers me sometimes.

3:23 PM  

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