Update Friday evening: AJC reporter Laura Diamond is working on a story for Sunday on Emory and the rankings misinformation. If you are a parent, student or graduate and would be willing to talk with her, please call her at 404-526-7257 or email her. Thanks.
Emory’s announcement today that employees inflated student data to push the university up in the college rankings will spur a renewed debate on the arms race to dominate the “best” lists.
Emory President Jim Wagner said today that Emory has intentionally misreported data about its students to groups that rank colleges for more than a decade.
Emory is not the first college to acknowledge that student academic profiles were tweaked to enhance standings. The New York Times earlier this year reported several schools had acknowledged gaming the system. Iona College in New York admitted lying about test scores, graduation rates, freshman retention, student-faculty ratio and acceptance rates.
The Times reported that “Baylor University offered financial rewards to admitted students to retake the SAT in hopes of increasing its average score. Admissions directors say that some colleges delay admission of low-scoring students until January, excluding them from averages for the class admitted in September, while other colleges seek more applications to report a lower percentage of students accepted.
In January, Claremont McKenna in California announced that a top admissions officer had resigned after he confessed to inflating the average SAT scores for purposes of rising up the ranks in the revered U.S. News & World Report listing.
According to the AJC:
U.S. News & World Report, Peterson’s and others routinely list Emory as one of the nation’s top colleges. Students and families rely on these rankings when deciding where to apply and enroll. Emory officials said they have no way of knowing if the college was over-ranked.
“As an institution that challenges itself, in the words of our vision statement, to be ‘ethically engaged,’ Emory has not been well served by representatives of the university in this history of misreporting,” Wagner wrote in a letter to the university. “I am deeply disappointed. Indeed, anyone who cares about Emory’s reputation for excellence in all things must regret this news.”
Emory launched an investigation in May after John Latting, the new dean of admissions, discovered data discrepancies. The investigation found that Emory:
- Used admitted students’ SAT/ACT data instead of enrolled students since at least 2000. This overstated Emory’s test scores.
- May have excluded the scores of the bottom 10 percent of students when reporting SAT/ACT scores, GPAs, and other information. This practice was not followed after 2004.
- Overstated class rankings.
Two former admission deans and leadership in the Office of Institutional Research were aware of the misreporting, the investigation found. They no longer work at Emory, officials said. The investigation found nothing to indicate that anyone in the president’s, provost’s or dean’s offices knew data was being misreported or directed or coerced staff to do so.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog