U.S. News rankings chief explains unlisting

GW was shifted to unranked because of U.S. News & World Report’s policy to not redo the list if a school’s recalculated spot would be lower, the magazine’s rankings chief clarified Friday.

Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News, wrote on his blog that GW was removed from the list – while other universities who misreported data this year remained – after a statistical simulation showed GW would have dropped.

Misreported data at Emory University and Claremont McKenna College this year was not altered enough to change the schools’ rankings, Morse wrote. Officials at those schools said their data inflation was intentional, while GW administrators have held that their error was inadvertent.

“It is U.S. News’s policy not to re-rank when a college or university erroneously reports statistical data that causes a school’s ranking to be either higher or lower than its originally published rank—whether or not the misreporting was intentional,” Morse wrote.

The policy is in place so the magazine doesn’t bump down other schools as a result, ensuring “stability in the published rankings,” he wrote.

GW admitted Nov. 8 to inflating the percentage of freshmen in the top 10 percent of their high school class by 20 percentage points. That statistic is weighed as 6 percent of U.S. News’ ranking methodology.

Morse had not mentioned the U.S. News policy Nov. 8 or Wednesday after announcing GW would be unranked, leaving many, including University President Steven Knapp, to question the move.

Morse wrote the move also was not unprecedented. Iona College in New York was moved to unranked last year after manipulating rankings data.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.