The New York Times reports that the majority of colleges that comprise the Annapolis Group, a loose association of 80 liberal arts colleges, have agreed not to participate in the US News rankings. This non-binding commitment means that the deans of these schools, including Barnard, Sarah Lawrence, Gettysburg, and Kenyon will not respond to the US News survey.
This same group of schools is attempting to develop a tool that will allow parents and applicants to have access to their system of comparing institutions. The group intends to work with other higher education organizations to come up with a common format with comparable data that parents and students will be able to use.
I have long maintained that the value of the rankings lies in the data they provide, not the number they assign. US News et.al did a disservice by labeling these issues "rankings"; they sell more magazines, but misrepresent their product. In truth, only individuals can "rank" schools — based on their own unique needs and values….and frequently the data provided by schools and rankings.
At the same time I have little use for the schools’ whining about and finger-pointing at the rankings while participating in them, boasting of their rankings, and making educational decision based on the rankings. If they really want to bring some sanity to the scene, they have to stop participating in the reputational survey, cease trumpeting their rankings and using them as a basis for educational decisions, and provide a data bank that surpasses that provided by US News. Otherwise they simply look silly, make bad decisions, and/or throw out the baby with the bath water.