Last Thursday, The Washington Post ran an article revealing that George Washington University has been inflating the class rank data of its incoming students, due to a flaw in its reporting system dating back more than a decade. The university claimed that 78 percent of its incoming students had been in the top 10 percent of their graduating class, when in fact it was 20 percentage points lower at 58 percent.
According to GW, the error arose since many high schools refuse to report which of their graduates were in the top 10 percent. As a result, admissions officers would instead estimate whether a student was likely to be toward the top of their class.
Class rank is a key factor in determining college rankings such as those for U.S. News & World Report. Selectivity makes up 15 percent of the ranking and of that portion, 40 percent depends on class rank data. This year, GW ranked 50th in the U.S. News & World Report rankings.
Even though the discrepancy was large, U.S. News concluded that their ranking of GW was not affected by the change. Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Forrest Maltzman told the Post that the error was not intentional and that responsible people had been “held accountable.”
GW President Steven Knapp agreed in a statement to the university community. “I deeply regret this error and want to assure you that corrective action has been taken and safeguards put into place to prevent such errors from occurring in the future.”