New NRC Rankings: “A little bit unsatisfactory, but at least it’s honest”
The long-awaited new ranking of doctorate programs by the National Research Council came out yesterday. I’ve been playing with an interactive tool produced by the Chronicle of Higher Education to explore the rankings. The new ranking system uses both quantitative inputs and subjective opinions about the programs to come up with “statistical ranges” to describe each program, rather than a hard-and-fast linear progression. (Georgia Tech’s CS PhD program, in case you’re interested, is ranked as falling between 14 and 57.) The quote in this post’s title comes from the leader of the effort, describing the result as “A little bit unsatisfactory, but at least it’s honest.”
The advance briefing for reporters covering Tuesday’s release of the National Research Council’s ratings of doctoral programs may have made history as the first time a group doing rankings held a news conference at which it seemed to be largely trying to write them off.
While the NRC committee that produced the rankings defended its efforts and the resulting mass of data on doctoral programs now available, no one on the committee endorsed the actual rankings, and committee members went out of their way to say that there might well be better ways to rank — better than either of the two methods unveiled.