Summary of “the Order of Things”

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Summary of “The Order of Things”

Recently, the ranking system of U.S. News and World Report is increasingly being questioned. “ The Order of Things”, an article written by the bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell and published in the prestigious New York magazine, criticizes the methodology used by U.S. News and World Report. According to Gladwell’s article, some fundamental changes should be made in the U.S. News ranking system to improve the fairness and accuracy of the rankings.
The first change should be made is to choose particularly effective proxies.
An example of these problems is in the category of “faculty resource”. U.S. News uses “faculty salary” and “percentage of faculty with the highest degree in their field” to measure the quality of a student’s contacts with faculty. However, some educational researches show that salaries and degree attainment have nothing to do with educational quality.
Another problem is reputation score. According to the system, 90 per cent of the reputation score are based on “ peer assessment survey” and “ high school counselor’ rating”. However, those people under survey cannot have any specific insight into every school they are required to rank because of some factors such as geography or knowledge. Furthermore, people will rely on the U.S. News ranking to grade schools if they know nothing about those schools, resulting in a vicious circle. Gladwell suggests that employing one-dimensional rankings and created by people with specialized knowledge can improve the accuracy of reputation scores.
The second change should be made is to reevaluate how much weight the ranking system should assign to its variables.
An important aspect the system overlooks is “price”. As Gladwell says, the ranking system of U.S. News gives weight to “financial resources” denoted to educating students, but doesn’t include tuition as a variable. Actually, students and their families really care about the price their schools charge.

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