Researching and choosing a prospective college to attend can be exciting, and potentially, a little overwhelming. Parents and students may start their research like so many other things, with a new tab and fresh search bar to gather information and begin to plan for a postsecondary education. College rankings have helped fill in some of that information, not only for prospective students, their parents, but also for prospective faculty.
For forty years, U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) has reported annual rankings of colleges, as part of its for-profit news magazine. Their Best Colleges Rankings provides an easy way to jump into the college research pool and attach a ranking number and glimpse at different institutions. But the methodology of data collection and scoring often change, leaving institutions to wonder how exactly the proverbial sausage was made.
Due to changes in methodology, WSU’s scores in USNWR 2022-2023 resulted in a decline in our ranking. WSU System President, Kirk Schulz, and Provost and Executive Vice President, Elizabeth Chilton, appointed a task force on U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings to better understand the data and ranking factors used along with a report outlining the task force’s discoveries and recommendations.
OSPA’s Role in the Task Force
The Office of Strategy, Planning, and Analysis led the task force, providing the organizational structure necessary to fulfill the assigned objectives. OSPA’s Institutional Research Interim Executive Director, Stephanie Kane, chaired the task force and provided expertise and leadership.
OSPA exists to help address large institutional challenges and address those challenges with organizational structure, strategy, planning, and analysis to cultivate collaborative and effective solutions.
Furthering a Culture of Engagement and Collaboration
The task force leaned on the expertise of Brian French, Regents Professor, College of Education, who contributed a large share of the work in generating the report and analysis along with our Institutional Research experts and partners throughout the WSU System.
The collaborative effort of the task force highlights one of our key goals in the Office of Strategy, Planning, and Analysis: that by collaboratively and strategically addressing key institutional challenges, we can achieve improved outcomes for institutional effectiveness.