Tenn. colleges may be asked to ignore U.S. News queries

Associated Press • Mar 26, 2007 at 12:45 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A group of higher education administrators is expected to ask their peers in Tennessee and other states to ignore a questionnaire used by U.S. News & World Report to rank colleges and universities.

Displeasure with the magazine's rankings, intended as a consumer tool for students and parents to compare colleges, has been growing over the years.

But the concern intensified earlier this month when U.S. News was accused of "creating" data it could not obtain from a small liberal arts college.

The president of Sarah Lawrence College sparked the controversy when she claimed that, even though her school does not require SAT scores, U.S. News includes SAT data in its ranking system by estimating the score of the average student.

In the coming weeks, college and university presidents will be asked to fill out the U.S. News questionnaire.

But administrators at a dozen or so small colleges are expected to send a letter to their colleagues asking them not to fill out the questionnaire, nor promote the U.S. News rankings or make a statement on their school's Web site discounting them, according to The Tennessean.

"Finally, this feeling that many of us have had for years about the rankings is getting a voice," said Sidney McPhee, president of Middle Tennessee State University.

Following the claim by Sarah Lawrence College's president, U.S. News spokeswoman Cynthia Powell said the magazine's editors are looking at the way it formulates rankings, which traditionally come out in August.

Bob Fisher, president of Belmont University, which was ranked No. 10 in the South Region Masters category this year, said the U.S. News rankings don't provide a perfect measure of quality but are not meaningless.

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