U.S. News Asked by Senate to Change Ranking Formula, Aid Underrepresented Students

U.S. News Asked by Senate to Change Ranking Formula, Aid Underrepresented Students
Susan Dutca-Lovell

In a letter to the influential ranker of colleges, U.S. News & World Report, a group of Democratic senators urged them to use their "influential platform" to overhaul their college ranking formula by giving more weight to institutions that open their doors to students from underrepresented backgrounds when ranking schools.

Senators asked U.S. News to "better align its rankings with the three longstanding goals behind federal financial aid: improving college access, supporting student success, and providing every talented student a pathway to economic stability and meaningful participation in our country's economic, social, and civic life." In modifying the way U.S. News ranks its colleges, the senators aim in "giving more credit to those that do the most for underrepresented and disadvantaged students "instead of the privileged few."

The "unusual call" from the senators "reflects increasing national pressure for higher education to do more for low-income students." U.S. News already modified its rankings this year by giving more weight to the graduation rates of students who receive Pell Grants. It also removed from its algorithm colleges' acceptance rate and "reduced the importance of students' standardized-test scores and high-school standing." While the improvements were acknowledged by senators, they still fear that “U.S. News continues to create a perverse incentive for schools to adopt or maintain policies that perpetuate social and economic inequalities."

The six senators also called on U.S. News to "better recognize community colleges and minority-serving institutions" that serve as our country's engines of social mobility and incent others to do so." In your opinion, should U.S. News overhaul its current college ranking algorithm? Why or why not?

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