Denise Gater,
TheCenter, 2000 (revised)

"2"> "2">2001

"2"> This year, U.S. News adjusted each school's research
spending according to the ratio of its undergraduate to graduate
student population. This change was in response to the following
comments from their advisory board: 1) although large universities
with sizable research programs often spend the most, a large
portion of those expenditures benefits graduate students rather
than undergraduate students; 2) generous spending at universities
with expensive medical and engineering schools tends to benefit
primarily medical and graduate students; and 3) giving the highest
scores to institutions that spend the most ignores the possibility
that beyond a certain level each incremental dollar spent no longer
has an equal impact on educational quality. For those schools
reporting unusually large amounts of per-student spending
(outliers), they applied a logarithmic adjuster to all spending
values. 

"2">A consequence of the above change is that some institutions
that are strong in the sciences and thus moved up in the rankings
last year, fell back in this year's rankings (for example,
California Institute of Technology and Johns Hopkins
University).
 

"2">2000

"2">One key change was the use of a procedure, known as
"standardization," that brought U.S. News' calculations more
in line with accepted statistical practices. In doing so, they
dropped a step that they had previously used for national
universities that tended to flatten out large disparities between
schools in their performances on each indicator of quality --
commitment to superb teaching, for example, and financial
resources, or spending on instruction, research, and related
services.

"2">In the past, School A might have spent $200,000 per student,
School B might have spent $100,000, and School C might have spent
$50,000. If they were the leaders in spending, U.S. News
would have recognized them as first, second, and third but not have
given them credit for the size of the disparities among them. This
year, U.S. News' weighting system takes into account the
size of these differences.

"2">In general, the changes in the way they ranked schools this
year boosted the rankings of a number of universities with strong
science and engineering programs. Also, three public universities
moved into the top 50 national universities in large part because
their academic reputations are so much stronger than those of many
of their peers. These are the University of Texas-Austin, the
University of Washington, and the University of
Florida.

"2">1999

"2">This year, because of changes in reporting rules for private
colleges and universities, U.S. News measured financial
resources by the average spending per student on instruction,
research, public service, academic support, student services,
institutional support, and operations and maintenance during the
1996 and 1997 fiscal years. They stated that generous per-student
figures indicate a large endowment, enabling the college to offer a
wide variety of programs and services.

"2">In prior years, the financial resources category was broken
down into two components: educational expenditures and other
expenditures. Education expenditures was calculated as the sum of
per-student spending for instruction, student services, academic
support, and institutional support. The other component, "other
expenditures," included spending on financial aid, research,
operations and maintenance, and public service.

"2">The 1997 IPEDS Finance survey introduced a different set of
questions for private institutions in order to conform to changes
in accounting and financial reporting standards issued by the
Financial Accounting Standards Board. As a result of this
accounting change, U.S. News revised its calculations for
financial resources for this year's guide in order to make
comparisons between public and private colleges.

"2">1998

"2">U.S. News did not made any significant changes in its
methodology, but there are changes in the way that rankings were
presented. Most important, the final score of each ranked school
was rounded to the nearest whole number, which created more ties in
the rankings. In the past, the score was carried to one place after
the decimal point. U.S. News made this change because small
statistical differences among institutions are not significant in
setting them apart. Also, a school's score in the reputational
survey was shown on a scale from 4.0 (the highest) to 1.0 (the
lowest). In the past, each school's reputation rank was displayed,
such as 164th.

"2">1997

"2">The weighting of the "Retention" measure (consisting of
graduation rates and freshman retention rates) decreased from 25
percent to 20 percent (16 percent for graduation rates and 4
percent for freshman retention).

"2">The "Value Added" measure was added to the rankings with a
weighting of 5 percent of the total score (the "Value Added" title
of this measure has subsequently been changed to "Graduation Rate
Performance"). A predicted graduation rate was estimated for each
school based on test scores on its 1989 entering class and the
school's educational expenditures and this rate was then compared
with the actual six-year graduation rate of the same class. Then,
U.S. News calculated which universities produced higher than
expected, and lower than expected, graduation rates to determine
"Graduation Rate Performance."

"2">1996

"2">Because "outcomes" research shows that a school's retention
rate -- its ability to retain and graduate its students -- is an
important measure of academic quality, U.S. News increased
the weight of the Retention measure from 15 to 25 percent. This
year, the Retention measure included two components: 1) freshman
retention (the school's ability to retain first-time freshmen), and
2) six-year graduation rates. At the same time, the measure of
Student Selectivity (described as an input measure) was reduced
from 25 to 15 percent.

"2">This year, the schools ranked 26th to 50th (Tier 1) were listed
in rank order (with the ranking identified). In previous years,
Tier 1 universities were listed in alphabetical order so you did
not know what rank they held.

"2">1995

"2">Weighting of the Financial Resources measure was decreased from
15% in 1994 to 10% in 1995. Weighting of Graduation Rates increased
from 10% in 1994 to 15% in 1995.

"2">This year's weighting of faculty salaries included a
cost-of-living deflator, and this measure also reflected salaries
of ALL faculty ranks, not just of full professors as in previous
years.

"2">The Alumni Satisfaction measure specified this year that alumni
with graduate degrees should be excluded from the data reported for
this measure.

"2">1994

"2">The Faculty Resources measure excluded law, medical, dental,
and veterinary schools in the FTE counts for the student-to-faculty
ratio. Class size was added as a factor in the Faculty Resources
ranking (percentage classes of 50 or more and percentage classes
under 20). The weighting for Faculty Resources decreased from 25%
in 1993 to 20% in 1994.

"2">The weighting for the Financial Resources measure decreased
from 18% in 1993 to 15% in 1994.

"2">Graduation Rates were now considered as a separate measure with
a weighting of 10% rather than being called a measure of "student
satisfaction" (with a weighting of 7% in 1993). This year, six-year
graduation rates were used instead of five-year graduation rates as
in previous years.

"2">An Alumni Satisfaction measure was added (weighted at 5%),
determined by the average percentage of a school's living alumni
who gave to its fund drives.

"2">1993

"2">The Faculty Resources measure excluded law and medical schools
in the FTE counts for the student-to-faculty
ratio.

"2">The Financial Resources measure was changed so that instead of
determining just total E&G Expenditures per student, two
separate categories were measured: Educational Expenditures per
student and Other Expenditures per student. Educational
expenditures included the sum spent on instruction, student
services, and academic support including libraries. Other
expenditures included research, scholarships, and operation and
maintenance of plant. The weighting for the Financial Resources
measure changed from 20% in 1992 to 18% in 1993.

"2">The Student Satisfaction measure (five-year graduation rates)
increased in weighting, from 5% in 1992 to 7% in
1993.

"2">1992

"2">In the Faculty Resources measure, student-to-faculty ratio was
determined by FTE students and FTE instructional faculty.
Previously, it was determined by the ratio of full-time students to
full-time faculty. In addition to percentage of faculty with
doctorates, this year the measure included percentage of faculty
with terminal degrees in their fields.

"2">This year, the Financial Resources measure was defined by
dividing total E&G expenditures by FTE enrollment instead of by
total headcount enrollment.

"1">Top

 


U.S. News: Methodology Changes by Year