Higher Ed in the News: 7/20

Photo by Max Böttinger on Unsplash.

This week on Higher Ed in the News, retention data shows declines across higher ed and a push to make the famed U.S. News rankings more equitable.

The fall of 2020 saw “unprecedented” retention declines

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that the rate of first-year students returning for a second year fell to 73.9%, its lowest since 2012, Natalie Schwartz of Higher Ed Dive writes.

Community colleges had the largest dip, falling 3.5 percentage points to 58.5%. The report also highlighted “constrained student mobility,” in part because the number of first-year students transferring to other institutions fell 1.5 percentage points to 7.7%.

“The report adds to mounting evidence that the pandemic hurt enrollment and made it harder for students, particularly those at community colleges, to persevere in their studies,” Schwartz wrote, also noting racial disparities in the retention rates.


Growing movement to remove SAT and ACT scores from U.S. News Rankings

A dozen groups, including the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, signed an open letter urging the U.S. News and World Report to stop using average SAT and ACT scores in its rankings, as Jeremy Bauer-Wolf writes for Higher Ed Dive.

The letter stated that those scores were already a flawed metric and that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has made them even less relevant. 

Despite its criticisms, the U.S. News Rankings remain highly influential as people look into their undergraduate or postgraduate options. U.S. News has recently lowered the weighting of the standardized test score in their rankings, but many say that the rankings still punish schools that are attempting “test-blind” policies, Bauer-Wolf writes.

A spokesperson for U.S. News told Higher Ed Dive that it has not yet announced changes in methodology for the upcoming college rankings, which will include fall 2020 admissions data.