Is there anything in a university PR person's life that causes more agida than his or her employer's standing in U.S. News & World Report's highly debated and dissected annual college rankings issue? I wonder how many PR/image/marketing consultants claim to have the code for cracking the news weekly's formula for bolstering a university's position? (Likely the same number of SEO experts who claim the power to elevate a website in Google's organic results rankings within the TOS.)
Today, the Washington Post/Newsweek education reporter Jay Matthews took some heat for Newsweek's admittedly ill-conceived methodology that ranks the nation's public high schools. Apparently, it's a pretty simple algorithm. Divide the number of students taking AP classes by the number who go to college. It doesn't make a bit of a difference that the students in those AP classes might scores 1's and 2's out of a possible 5. The more students who take AP classes, the better the school will fare. Simple as that.
"Newsweek's one-variable-takes-all ratings of the 1,200 best high schools are often at odds with federal, state and local assessment systems that typically use more than a dozen measurements of performance" according to the piece in today's Times.The controversy probably doesn't rise to the clamor that hit Newsweek when it published reports that Americans at Gitmo flushed a Koran down the toilet, but I would think that Mark Whitaker and company might strongly consider revamping its high school rankings methodology so that the results are more meaningful. It's just "the right thing" to do.
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