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“Sorry, red-staters. By our yardstick, UC Berkeley is about the best thing for America we can find." (by 痞子揚)

08/12/2006

一群很肚爛U.S News and World Report College Guide的媒體人所作的另類美國大學排名。他們所採用的標準有三個: [1] How well it performs as an engine of social mobility (ideally helping the poor to get rich rather than the very rich to get very, very rich), [2] How well it does in fostering scientific and humanistic research, [3] How well it promotes an ethic of service to country. 在這個標準下,排名前五的學校分別是 MIT, Berkeley, Penn State, UCLA, 和Texas A&M。硬是把Harvard扔到28名,Princeton 43名。看了大快人心。 下面這篇文章是編輯們對這個排名的詮釋。不同於U.S News 所採用的那種看似客觀實則矯情的語氣,這篇文章擺明了就是要採取一個偏頗的立場,並且為這無可避免的偏頗理直氣壯的辯護(糟糕,太久沒寫中文了..)。文章結尾提到U.S News的排名讓很多學校開始作一些光怪陸離的事,看了心有戚戚焉。


source:http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2006/0609.collegeguide.html September 2006 The Washington Monthly’s Annual College Guide By The Editors A year ago, we decided we’d had enough of laying into U.S. News & World Report for shortcomings in its college guide. If we were so smart, maybe we should produce a college guide of our own. So we did. (We’re that smart.) We’ve produced a second guide this year–our rankings for national universities and liberal arts colleges–and it’s fair to ask: Is our guide better than that of U.S. News? Well, it’s certainly different. U.S. News aims to provide readers with a yardstick by which to judge the "best" schools, ranked according to academic excellence. Now, we happen to think U.S. News and similar guides do a lousy job of actually measuring academic excellence (see "Is Our Students Learning?"). But the aim of such guides is a perfectly worthy one. Higher education is a huge investment, and parents and students have a right to know whether their hard-earned tuition dollars will be well spent. But isn’t it just as important for taxpayers to know whether their money–in the form of billions of dollars in research grants and student aid–is being put to good use? After all, when colleges are doing what they should, they benefit all of us. They undertake vital research that drives our economy. They help Americans who are poor to become Americans who will prosper. And they shape the thoughts and ethics of the young Americans who will soon be leading the country. It’s worth knowing, then, which individual colleges and universities fit the bill. And so, to put The Washington Monthly College Rankings together, we started with a different assumption about what constitutes the "best" schools. We asked ourselves: What are reasonable indicators of how much a school is benefiting the country? We came up with three: how well it performs as an engine of social mobility (ideally helping the poor to get rich rather than the very rich to get very, very rich), how well it does in fostering scientific and humanistic research, and how well it promotes an ethic of service to country. We then devised a way to measure and quantify these criteria (See "A Note on Methodology"). Finally, we placed the schools into rankings. Rankings, we admit, are never perfect, but they’re also indispensable. By devising a set of criteria different from those of other college guides, we arrived at sharply different results. Top schools sank, and medium schools rose. For instance, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 48th on the U.S News list, takes third place on our list, while Princeton, first on the U.S. News list, takes 43rd on ours. In short, Pennsylvania State, measured on our terms–by the yardstick of fostering research, national service and social mobility–does a lot more for the country than Princeton. Don’t get us wrong. We’re not saying Princeton isn’t a superb school. It employs many of the nation’s finest minds, and its philosophy department is widely considered the best in the country. Its eating clubs, or whatever they’re called, are surely unmatched. Princeton may be a great destination for your tuition dollars, all 31,450 of them, not including room or board. But what if it’s a lousy destination for your tax dollars? Each year, Princeton receives millions of dollars in federal research grants. Does it deserve them? What has Princeton done for us lately? This is the only guide that tries to tell you. That, and a bit more. The Findings This year, once again, top-tier schools on the U.S. News chart fare much worse on our list. State schools are, by our measure, the primary heroes of higher education in the United States today. There are also a few villains to make it interesting. Here are some highlights from this year: The U.S. News top 10 rarely cracks our top 10. Of the top 10 national universities in the 2006 rankings of U.S. News, only two, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, make it onto our top 10. Harvard, first with Princeton on the U.S. News list, occupies only 28th place on our list, mainly because it’s weak on national service. MIT takes first place, while four state schools take spots two through five: the University of California, Berkeley; Pennsylvania State, University Park; University of California, Los Angeles; and Texas A&M University. We love Texas A&M. Sure, for some of us, Texas A&M evokes imagery of the weak being forced into a locker by the strong, but that doesn’t change the numbers. At 60th place on the U.S. News rankings, Texas A&M may not be celebrated, but few other schools can compare when it comes to churning out great engineers and scientists in high numbers. It has a healthy level of ROTC enrollment, and it uses federal work-study money towards community service. Texas A&M thus breezes to fifth place on our list. We love the ladies. Three cheers for Bryn Mawr College, 21st on the U.S. News list but first on our list of liberal arts colleges, and the same to Wellesley, fourth on the U.S. News list but second on ours. On every front–social mobility, public service, and research–both schools perform near the top. Does their gender ratio, 100:0 women-to-men, have an influence? We don’t know, but it doesn’t look like an argument for admitting men. Emory gets no love from us. Emory, 20th on the list of U.S. News, comes in at 96th on our list. It ranks lowest on our list of any of the U.S. News top 25, and it’s a full 42 spots behind runner-up Carnegie Mellon. Its social mobility score puts it at 104th place. (Its number of Pell recipients is low, its SAT scores are relatively high, yet its graduation is relatively low.) By spending its money on recruiting applicants with high SAT scores (a way of boosting one’s U.S. News ranking) Emory has apparently decided reaching out to poorer students is a low priority. Nor does it do especially well in public service or research. That’s not great for a school with an endowment of $4.5 billion, the eighth-highest in the nation. Boo, Emory. The New School University: "unusual intent" meets non-existent results. The New School University in New York doesn’t engage in a lot of U.S. News jockeying, but it boasts of goals that are exactly of the sort this guide rewards. Its website speaks of the school’s "unusual intent" to bring "actual, positive change to the world." The reality: it’s at 228th place on our list. By every measure we have, it drops the ball. (By contrast, The Evergreen State College in Washington State, which approvingly quotes a description of itself as "ultra-progressive," scores much higher, at 47th place.) The best candidate for "actual, positive change" may in fact be the New School. The Big Ten slaughters the SEC. Of the 11 members of the Big Ten Conference–University of Illinois, University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Purdue University, University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, University of Iowa, Ohio State University, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University–all 11 make our top 75. Of the 12 members of the Southeastern Conference–we’ll not list them all–only Vanderbilt University and the University of Florida even crack it. Football is fine for schools, as long as they’re Midwestern. UC schools continue to rule. Sorry, red-staters. By our yardstick, University of California, Berkeley is about the best thing for America we can find. It’s good by all of our measurements. The same goes for the rest of the schools in the UC system, four of which make our top 10, the rest of which make our top 80. A new, better pressure Let’s go back for a moment to the issue of academic excellence. Academic measures are surely as important as those of research, service, or social mobility in allowing us to judge whether colleges are good for the country. We don’t include su
ch measures in our rankings, however, for a simple reason: It is currently impossible to get reliable data on how much learning goes on in America’s college classrooms. Until we have good information, we’d rather stay silent than try to go down the path of U.S. News in devising oddball heuristics. (If it’s a choice between wondering about your IQ and having it measured by someone who counts the bumps on your head, it’s surely better to wonder about your IQ.) It’s not that such data on learning don’t exist. But, thanks mainly to resistance by colleges and universities, especially the elite private ones, that information is under lock and key, unavailable for public inspection. What little we know about the data, however (again, see "Is Our Students Learning?"), suggests that if they were included in our ranking, you’d see similarly boat-rocking results. Many of the top schools on the U.S. News list would plummet, and many bottom-tier schools would soar. (No wonder the elite schools don’t want the data out.) We hope the rankings that follow will be useful in several ways. Adults can see how "patriotic" their alma maters are. Prospective students looking for colleges with a strong ethic of service, or with a reputation for fostering PhD candidates, or with records of paying attention to poorer students, will find them here. Most of all, we hope that citizens and elected officials will look at this guide when making decisions on how to subsidize and regulate higher education. After all, almost all the great challenges America now faces–the fact that incomes are not rising for most Americans, that the Army has resorted to recruiting ex-convicts and skinheads to fill its ranks, and that our economic competitors are increasingly investing in human capital to build the high-wage industries of the future–are ultimately tied to actions taken or not taken by America’s colleges and universities. The point is this: Rankings reflect priorities, and they also set them. Our periodic grousing about other college guides isn’t so much about the influence they have on prospective students (although it’s strong). It’s about the influence they have on colleges themselves. In order to improve their rank in the U.S. News guide, schools often lose sight of the greater good and focus on throwing a lot of money at the wrong things in the hopes of gaming the system. (Emory’s pursuit of high-SAT students over poor students is an example.) By enshrining one set of priorities, such as those set by U.S. News, colleges neglect the ones we think are most important. This guide, then, is a modest bid to generate some pressure of our own, to create a ranking that will inspire schools to aim for standards other than those set out by U.S. News and its imitators. As we said last year, imagine if colleges–the many thousands of them–tried to boost their scores on The Washington Monthly College Rankings. They’d enroll more low-income students and try to make sure they graduated. They’d encourage their students to join the military or the Peace Corps. And they’d produce more scientists and engineers. In short, our country would grow more democratic, equitable, and prosperous. We don’t think it will happen overnight, but we’d like to think our colleges will eventually sit up and pay attention. And maybe they’d stop sending us so many damn brochures.

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4 則迴響 leave one →
  1. 08/12/2006 5:21 下午

    教育的目的與理想之一,就是促進階層間的社會流動。可是,區分各種階層的界線,可以有很多種。貧富,只是各種分類人群方式的其中一種。這個排名所想反駁的之一,就是那些在us news名列前茅的學校,其實只是鞏固這種貧富階層的助紂為孽者罷了。那些elite school,例如哈佛,最大的毛病就是他讓一堆很有錢的人變得更有錢,永遠在金字塔的頂端,卻讓那些貧窮學生沒法翻身。從這一點來說,加州大學就比較好,因為他學費「比較」低、比那些精英學校「低很多」。雖然火星人的算術顯然有點問題,加州大學的學費還是無敵夭壽高,但是至少他降低了學院的進入門檻,使得那些比較沒錢,「但是」卻聰明的學生得以獲得受教育的機會與權利,此後可以到金字塔裡亂搞一通,消弭樓層間的差異。

    但是,區分階層的界線分類,又不只有貧富一種。我想進柏克萊,沒錢是沒關係,但我得要先聰明啊。柏克萊會招窮人,可是他不會招笨蛋啊。像我這種笨蛋,想受點教育讓自己變聰明一點,柏克萊也不會因此感念我孝感動天就把我收進去啊。

    不同的排名系統,代表著不同的金字塔樓層規劃藍圖。但是,每一份藍圖,本身都有自己不同的分類人群的方式。哈佛讓有錢的人變得更有錢,卻叫那些窮人去死。柏克萊讓聰明的人變得更聰明,至於像我這種笨蛋嘛……去吃撒尿牛丸比較快。

  2. catatonia permalink
    08/17/2006 8:49 上午

    我找了半天沒找到我們學校,後來想到我們雖然是UC系統,不過沒有大學部,所以大概列不進去.整個排名看起來一個簡單的心得是:有錢的人請到私立大學如哈校或者普校繼續維持在金字塔頂端;沒錢的人就請去公立學校賭一把未來.不過social mobility的意義預設了某種階級的高低,然而在美國這種階級高低很容易被當成是收入的同義詞,所以我很好奇他們要怎麼估計這種影響,看了一下他們的方法學還是覺得不太夠,當然,這還是一個迥異於US News的精采觀點.

  3. catatonia permalink
    08/17/2006 8:49 上午

    我找了半天沒找到我們學校,後來想到我們雖然是UC系統,不過沒有大學部,所以大概列不進去.整個排名看起來一個簡單的心得是:有錢的人請到私立大學如哈校或者普校繼續維持在金字塔頂端;沒錢的人就請去公立學校賭一把未來.不過social mobility的意義預設了某種階級的高低,然而在美國這種階級高低很容易被當成是收入的同義詞,所以我很好奇他們要怎麼估計這種影響,看了一下他們的方法學還是覺得不太夠,當然,這還是一個迥異於US News的精采觀點.

  4. rolcoco permalink
    08/19/2006 3:40 下午

    我十分同意這是個迥異於US News的精彩觀點。我也十分希望未來會有更多採用不同指標的評鑑與排行產生,而且真的能對各式各樣的學生有實際的參考意義。不要只有SAT排行、學術成就排行、party school排行這幾種可能性而已。

    但我還是想說,這份排名給我的感覺還是十分菁英取向。只不過這裡的菁英不是在宴會裡穿著華服紙醉金迷夜夜笙歌的菁英,而是在法國存在主義咖啡館裡抽煙嚼舌根的菁英。但後者至少比前者好太多了。我還是比較相信,一份好的評鑑與排行,要記得去頭去尾留中間(http://blog.roodo.com/jenyiyu/archives/1931162.html)

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