FAQs on George Washington University's Data Misreporting

Robert J. Morse

We have received several questions about the U.S. News decision to move George Washington University to the "Unranked" category in the 2013 Best Colleges rankings. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Claremont McKenna College and Emory University misreported data that were used in the 2012 Best Colleges rankings. Why did U.S. News unrank GW but not Claremont McKenna or Emory?

In all three cases, U.S. News did a statistical simulation of what each school's numerical ranking would have been in their U.S. News ranking category if the corrected data had been used. In the case of George Washington University, the simulation showed that the school's numerical ranking would have been lower as a result of the large change in the school's corrected high school class rank data.

When U.S. News did a simulation of the rankings using corrected data for both Claremont McKenna College and Emory University, the difference using the new data was not large enough to result in a change to their original numerical ranks; they therefore were not unranked.

It is U.S. News's policy that if a school's numerical Best Colleges rank would have been lower by even one or two spots than its originally published rank, it will result in the school being "Unranked" until the next Best Colleges rankings are published. Since GW's numerical rank was determined to be lower than the originally published rank, the school has been unranked.

Read more about how U.S. News handled data misreporting by Emory and Claremont McKenna:

-- "Emory University Misreported Admissions Data"

-- "Emory University Confirms Accuracy of Data Used in 2013 Best Colleges Rankings"

-- "Correcting Claremont McKenna's 2010 Admissions Statistics"

Why didn't U.S. News re-rank the National Universities category following George Washington University's admission of data misreporting?

It is U.S. News's policy not to re-rank when a college or university erroneously reports statistical data that causes a school's ranking to be either higher or lower than its originally published rank--whether or not the misreporting was intentional.

U.S. News believes that it's also very important not to change the existing rankings of other schools due to one school's misreporting that is disclosed after the rankings have been published. Schools, students, and parents need and count on stability in the published rankings when using them.

How does U.S. News handle the statistical data schools submit, after it has been disclosed that the originally submitted data had been misreported?

U.S. News believes that consumers should be able to see the new data online. We remove the data that has been reported as incorrect from the school's entry on usnews.com and replace it with the newly reported statistical data provided by the school. This has been done for GW.

Has U.S. News previously unranked other schools in the Best Colleges rankings due to erroneously reported data that resulted in their rank being overstated?

Yes, Iona College was unranked in the 2012 edition of Best Colleges after the school advised U.S. News that certain data points had been falsified, thereby making its originally published rank higher than it otherwise would have been.