Five prominent schools -- Tulane University in Louisiana, Claremont McKenna College in California, Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, Emory University in Georgia and George Washington University in the District of Columbia -- discovered and disclosed they had in the past submitted accidentally or intentionally inflated standardized test scores or high school rankings of incoming freshman, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
U.S. News & World Report has been a highly regarded source of information about colleges for approximately 30 years, but the colleges' disclosures have rekindled a debate about the reliability of the magazine's rankings, the Post said.
Ninety-one percent of 576 college admissions officers last summer said they think other colleges had misreported test scores and other admissions information -- and a few said their own college had done so, a Gallup survey conducted last summer for the news website Inside Higher Ed showed.
It is impossible to know how many colleges have misreported information, as a lot of the data colleges provide to the magazine, the federal government and analysts is not verified independently, the Post said.
"Rankings have become omnipresent in higher education, and they have enhanced the competition among institutions. And in any highly competitive environment, there is always a temptation to cut corners," said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education.