Last week, Bucknell University in Pennsylvania admitted that it had reported inaccurate SAT and ACT scores to U.S. News and World Report for the magazine’s college rankings. Bucknell inflated the scores of incoming freshmen for seven years, from 2006-2012.
Bucknell’s president stated that he believes one individual was responsible for changing the data, and that person no longer works for the university.
With its admission, Bucknell became the latest college to disclose that it had altered data it reported to U.S. News. In 2012, Emory University and Claremont McKenna College admitted to inflating test scores, and George Washington University acknowledged that it had altered class rankings.
Unfortunately, as long as rankings like those in U.S. News continue to be held in such high regard and to play such an important role in students’ college decisions, we are likely to see more colleges come forward about falsifying data. And for every college that admits doing this, one has to wonder how many more have done and are doing it.
Stories like this point to one of the major problems with U.S. News‘s rankings — that the data on which they’re based may not be completely reliable. For more about the flaws in these rankings, see my blog post, “How Reliable Are College Rankings?“.