College Ratings

It’s a linkstravaganza!

In case you hadn’t heard, every college except Harvard (and this year, Princeton) tells people to ignore the US News and World Reports ranking of universities and graduate schools. Prep schools tell people to ignore their high school rankings. Educational organizations are, in general, terrified of being compared to each other, because they know that someone will come out on top. Part of the rationale typically given is that each school is a unique and special snowflake that should be considered on the merits of how it fits with the individual student. Having seen a lot of schools, most of them are not. Don’t get me wrong, there are some unique schools out there (Sudbury, Hyde, Crane Union), and I love them for it, but most of them are not. Schools are indeed comparable entities.

Folks seem likewise terrified of a new initiative from Obama to rate schools and make financial aid dependent on that rating. I suspect this will not be a numerical ranking, the way USNWR does things – my guess is that they’ll give out A-F grades (because, ha ha, school joke, get it? so funny amirite?), but I could be wrong.

I’m of two minds about this. First I think that it could be a useful thing to do, and might encourage colleges to step things up. Then I remember that every system can be gamed, and that teachers and administrators are no better than students when it comes to gaming the system. I guess it’s another try-and-see sort of thing; I’m just worried as to whether a trial period and further reflection are actually built into the plan.

I sort of wish that things like the NEASC accreditation ratings could be used instead. They’re less a “how good is your school” rating and more of a “does your school actually do what you say you do” rating. They’re in individual categories rather than one overall score, and it’s quite a detailed report.!


About Colin Fredericks

By day I help to create online courses at HarvardX. By night I write roleplaying games.

Posted on September 27, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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