GW Responds to USNews Unranking

This past summer, Provost Steven Lerman reorganized the university’s undergraduate enrollment management functions under new leadership.

In the process, the Provost’s Office reviewed the university’s admissions statistics and found a flaw in the method used to determine the percentage of incoming freshmen who rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

While class rank is not one of the statistics reported to the U.S. Department of Education, it is one of many statistics provided to U.S. News & World Report.

GW informed U.S. News & World Report of this error and provided corrected data for the class of 2015.  The discovery of this flaw was reported on November 8, 2012.

The Finance and Audit Committee of the George Washington University Board of Trustees engaged Baker Tilly Beers & Cutler, an independent accounting and advisory firm that serves as the university’s internal auditor, to assess the undergraduate enrollment data the university provides annually to the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. News & World Report, and other entities.

The assessment revealed no reporting issues other than class rank. The data reviewed included the number of applications, the acceptance rate, the percentage of accepted students who enrolled, high school class rank, and SAT/ACT scores.

In a statement issued by President Steven Knapp, he revealed that the Provost is conducting a national search for a Senior Associate Provost for Enrollment Management. In the interim, the Office of Academic Planning, Institutional Research, and Assessment, under the direction of Senior Vice Provost Forrest Maltzman, will be responsible for overseeing the collection and reporting of all admissions data.

On November 14, 2012, the university learned that as a result of sharing this information with U.S. News & World Report, the publication changed the university’s status to ‘unranked.’  According to the U.S. News & World Report website, “Unranked means that U.S. News did not calculate a numerical ranking for [the George Washington University].”

President Steven Knapp has issued this statement regarding U.S. News & World Report’s decision:

“The George Washington University is committed to maintaining the highest standards of integrity and accuracy.  For that reason, when we discovered an error in the high school class rank data that we had submitted to U.S. News and World Report, we reported that error both to U.S. News and to the university community.  We did so without regard to any possible action that U.S. News might take as a result.    We were surprised by the decision of U.S. News to remove George Washington’s numerical ranking rather than to correct it in light of our disclosure.  U.S. News data about GW is still available on the U.S. News website.  As I have said, we regret the error and have put safeguards in place to prevent such errors from occurring in the future.”

Jim Core, MA ’96, the president of the George Washington Alumni Association, which represents the 250,000 alumni worldwide, shared this statement:

“It is an unfortunate set of circumstances, but what’s important to note is that the university discovered a problem and reported it immediately. While the response from US News & World Report is disheartening, it does not take away from the quality of the educational experience or the contributions that our alumni make when they graduate.”

Senior Vice Provost, Forrest Maltzman has addressed this issue in a Q&A format, and President Steven Knapp’s full statement can viewed online at GWToday.

The Office of Alumni Relations appreciates hearing from alumni and having the opportunity to address your concerns.

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