On Campus

Universities respond to incentives

Baylor University is being called “the poster child for SAT misuse” after the student newspaper revealed an unusual practice: paying admitted freshmen to retake the SAT and offering large financial rewards for those whose scores go up by certain levels.While the university says that its approach is designed to give out more scholarship aid, it is being denounced as a cynical attempt to boost SAT averages (which dropped for the class in which this approach is being used) to try to improve the university’s standing with U.S. News & World Report.

Source. Can’t blame them, really. The UNWR is such an influential guide that improvement in these rankings means a lot. The jobs of many of those who run universities can be tied to them. Donations from alumni. The ability to attract valuable students. So on and so forth.

The problem is that designing rankings that don’t create these sort of perverse incentives is easier said then done…

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