The NYT reports today that the Obama administration gave up its efforts to rank universities and colleges, after intense opposition. Instead, it provides information on its new College Scorecard website. That's true - sort of.
Instead,the College Scorecard homepage highlights interesting blog posts from Homeroom, the official blog of the DOE. Here we discover non-ranking posts like "23 four-year schools with low costs that lead to high incomes." But the DOE is no different than US News. It has to make decisions about how to assess things like "low costs." You might assume tuition? Or perhaps tuition minus discount rate? Both would be fair.
Here, though, is the methodology: This list includes schools in the top 10 percent of predominantly four-year-degree-granting schools for 1) median positive earnings 10 years after beginning at the school and 2) low net price for students receiving federal grants or loans with a family income of $0-$48,000.
This is useful information. It ends up preferencing elite schools, in the main, that have aggressive scholarship funding paired with excellent outcomes. And, of course, these schools can now market their Top 23 ... or should I say "DOE 23" status. Because the DOE is careful not to call these schools top anything, but rather "23 schools." I am curious whether the list reflects the whole top 10% within their chosen cohort, or whether the editors - for whatever reason - listed only a selection of this 10%.
In any case, it appears that nonwithstanding the Times' reporting, the DOE is in the rankings game. And every school is now praying that the editors choose methodologies friendly to their particular circumstances. Perhaps Robert Morse might be available to advise them.