The New York Times included a letter in its Dec. 24 edition written by Daniel Chambliss, the Eugene M. Tobin Distinguished Professor of Sociology, in response to an opinion piece by Randolph College President Bradley W. Bateman titled “The Wrong Ratings.” Chambliss’ letter appeared under the banner “Do College Ratings Help Prospective Students?”
In replying to Bateman’s essay, Chambliss pointed out that, “Ratings systems, by their choice of metrics, must assume that colleges have roughly the same mission and that students have the same goals. Neither assumption holds true.” Bateman had suggested in his piece that rankings were helpful but that perhaps President Obama is pursuing the wrong data with which to compare institutions.
Chambliss posited that “Piling dropout statistics, six-year graduation rates and first-job income numbers in front of low-income teenagers won’t help; these students often lack the quantitative data skills, the knowledgeable adult guidance, and sometimes even the computer access to systematically gather and interpret such information.” He concluded his letter with, “The real answer isn’t swamping prospective students with more data. It’s providing them access to low-cost, high-quality four-year colleges, open to a wide range of students.”