How Colleges Manipulate SAT Score Information

Turns out it’s not just law schools submitting inaccurate information to college rating guides. While there’s only so much deception that can occur before U.S. News notices, since colleges are responsible for submitting most of the information used to rate colleges, there’s actually significant room for, well, creativity.

According to an article by Leslie Brody in New Jersey’s The Record:

Hours after The Record reported Friday that Ramapo College of New Jersey inflated its SAT results, the school announced it would start submitting its scores correctly to the nation’s dominant publisher of college rankings.

Ramapo College, which has promoted its increased selectivity in recent years, excluded 22 percent of freshmen — particularly its most disadvantaged students — when reporting average SAT scores to U. S. News and World Report. Submitting only the scores of so-called “regular admits” boosted the SAT average of incoming freshman to 1165, up 52 points from the full class that entered in fall 2010.

Basically Ramapo College was for years in the habit of reporting only the SAT scores of “regular” students, and excluding disadvantaged students, those admitted under more lenient admissions standards.

As the school explained “each year since 2004, USNWR placed an asterisk next to our SAT score with a statement that Ramapo does not file its data in the requested format.”

But the publication didn’t consistently use the asterisk and explanation in its ranking system so it looked like the school, which appears to admit about 51 percent of applicants, was much more selective than it actually was.

The tactic is apparently rather common. According to the article “among 143 regional universities in the North… 24” of them do not submit SAT scores for their entire freshman classes.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer