USC School of Education Sent Wrong Data for Ranking, Report Says

According to an investigation published on Friday, two deans of the University of Southern California’s School of Education ordered officials to omit key data submitted for US News & World Report’s annual list of top graduate schools. measures that contributed to the school’s rise in the rankings.

In March, USC announced that it had removed the Rossier School of Education from US News & World Report’s upcoming annual rankings after discovering “a history of inaccuracies” in data reported by the school dating back at least five years. The university has commissioned an independent investigation to identify how the erroneous data occurred.

Most recently, the school ranked #11 among teaching schools. The misrepresentations gave the impression that “the school’s doctoral programs were much smaller and more selective than they actually were,” the report by law firm Jones Day concluded.

The report describes a practice that spanned several years under Dean Karen Symms Gallagher, who oversaw the Rossier School from 2000 to 2020, and continued under Dean Pedro Noguera, which began in 2020. Both deans endorsed the misrepresentation, although Noguera in late 2021 alerted the school provost to a possible issue.

Knowledge of the practice was “no secret”, the report says, and staff members at various times raised questions about its propriety.

At one point, a faculty head warned they were concerned about the school’s approach and worried about what would happen “if a scandal were to break out”, the report said.

The omitted data largely concerned student selectivity – which accounts for 18% of a school’s overall score.

In reports on the school’s doctoral programs, staff were asked to omit data from their EdD program and only include data from their doctoral program, even though the survey instructions specifically asked the two.

The EdD program, which generally aims to develop professionals in the field of education like principals and superintendents, is larger and has a significantly higher acceptance rate than its doctoral program, which is much more selective and oriented towards the development of scholars and professors.

“The school was at all times free not to submit to classification by US News; having chosen to submit, however, the School was not free to create its own rules,” the report states.

In a letter to Rossier students and staff on Friday, Noguera said he accepts “full responsibility for continuing the practice of reporting inaccurate data to USNWR during my first year as dean.” .

“Regardless of the circumstances of the pandemic and my personal circumstances at the time, it was and remains my responsibility as Dean to ensure that high academic standards and quality are maintained at USC Rossier, and that all our operations and conduct are ethical. ”

Angel Horacek, an attorney representing Gallagher, did not respond to questions about the report, but said that during Gallagher’s years as dean, the school focused on training educators. And the students who came to USC went out into the community to do good.

In a separate letter, Provost Charles F. Zukoski expressed support for Noguera, saying the dean “has accomplished a great deal and has broad support from Rossier faculty and staff. President [Carol] Folt and I are confident that he will move the school forward with integrity and vision.

Zukoski said he and Noguera would work together “to implement new oversight functions to ensure the school always meets the highest standards of excellence and integrity.”

Los Angeles Times

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