Oregon colleges fail to make rankings

Oregon Fails to Place in Top 50 in Kiplinger’s Best Value in Public Colleges

It would appear that Oregon’s poor showing (49th ranking out of 50 states) in the recent Education Week Quality Counts 2008 for K -12 education extends into the arena of higher education as well. Kiplinger’s annual report of the Best Value in Public Colleges (in-state) does not have a single Oregon institution in the top 50. Not a single institution in the top 75. Not in the top 85. In fact, you have to get all the way to 86th before you can find an Oregon university (University of Oregon). There are no other Oregon universities that made the list.

Here is how they ranked the colleges and universities (in their own words):

+ Percentage of the 2006-07 freshman class scoring 600 or higher on the verbal and math components of the SAT (or scoring 24 or higher on the ACT)
+ Admission rates
+ Freshman retention rates
+ Student-faculty ratios

– Four- and six-year graduation rates, which most schools reported for the student cohort entering in 2000
Then we ranked each school based on cost and financial aid. We looked at:
– Total cost for in-state students (tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, and estimated expenses for books)
– Average cost for a student with need after subtracting grants (but not loans)
– Average cost for a student without need after subtracting non-need-based grants
– Average percentage of need met by aid (need-based assistance)
– Average debt a student accumulates before graduation

We were looking for schools that were academically strong as well as affordable, so in our scoring, academic quality carries more weight than costs (almost two-thirds of the total). We used academic-quality scores and average debt at graduation to break ties.

I only point this out to show that we could use some immediate corrective action in our state education system. We keep coming up on the short end in these national surveys performed by independent, non-political entities. Oregon can and should do better than 49th out of 50 and 86th out of 100.