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U.S. News makes changes to its policy after facing criticism for ranking data collection. Photo: U.S. News

U.S. News changes testing policy

U.S. News will no longer punish universities and colleges with limited SAT or ACT scores

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The U.S. News & World Report released the college rankings for 2023 today, and the top colleges remain somewhat the same. Given the polarization regarding validity of these rankings, we will not mention the names in this article.

However, if you are unfamiliar with the latest issues pertaining to ranking, Columbia University was unranked from the #2 spot, released a statement on Friday admitting to falsely disclosing data. This admission prompted many to question the legitimacy of these rankings and how can students better ascertain which school is better to attend. 

It is no surprise the 2023 list favors wealthier institutions. For the magazine’s listings visit here

Even though the ranking’s accuracy is questionable, it is extremely influential in many aspects from attracting enrollment, recognition, among other things. 

Change on Testing 

U.S. News will no longer punish universities and colleges with limited SAT or ACT scores. In the past, U.S. News has used this data to compare and further analyze an institution’s data. However, the pandemic presented the unique opportunity for colleges and universities to make the test optional or test blind. Al Día News previously reported that approximately 1,750 four year colleges have plans to go test-optional or test-blind for 2023. A comprehensive list of institutions planning to either offer test optional or test blind can be found here

U.S. News has changed its policy before. Last year there were two obvious changes: 

“A change for the 2022 edition—if the combined percentage of the fall 2020 entering class submitting test scores was less than 50 percent of all new entrants, its combined SAT/ACT percentile distribution value used in the rankings was discounted by 15 percent,” as reported by Inside Higher ED. “In previous editions, the threshold was 75 percent of new entrants. The change was made to reflect the growth of test-optional policies through the 2019 calendar year and the fact that the coronavirus impacted the fall 2020 admission process at many schools.”

Also, Inside Higher ED reports that U.S News mentioned that “test blind schools, for which data on SAT and ACT scores were not available, by assigning them a rankings value equal to the lowest test score in their rankings. These schools differ from ones with test-optional or test-flexible admissions for which SAT and ACT scores were available and were always rank eligible.”

Despite U.S. News data collection process, criticism has only intensified after Columbia University was unranked due to data discrepancies. This is not the first time a college or university has lost its ranking or faced repercussions for data discrepancy. The Wall Street Journal reported that a dean from Temple University received a 14-month prison sentence for fraud after trying to raise the school’s M.B.A. standings. 

Now, the magazine announced another change to its policy. “For schools reporting on less than 50% of their fall entering classes both in fall 2021 and fall 2020, standardized tests were not at all used in their ranking. Instead, we reallocated the 5% weight of the test score indicator to a blend of the average six-year graduation rate and high school standing ranking factors, which historically correlate strongly with the standardized test ranking factor.”

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