For all its controversies with school boards, book banning, and a “Don’t Say Gay” law, among others, Florida has again risen to the top of the U.S. News & World Report rankings in both K12 and higher ed.
At a press conference earlier this week, Florida Education Commissioner and former Florida Senator Manny Diaz announced the news to a crowd of cheering supporters in Miami. This is the 7th year in a row that U.S. News has named Florida #1 overall in education and #1 in higher ed.
Critics of the methodology, however, weighed in. “You got a positive Yelp review. That’s, in essence, what you just got,” Akil Bello, director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, remarked to ABC News.
Bello has for years been a critic of U.S. News’ rankings process, based on the fact, he says, that they use “subjective analysis, filtering it through numbers and pretending it’s objective. They’re using metrics that no one would actually want to measure if you were looking at education.”
By its own explanation, U.S. News’ education rankings are determined using metrics such as graduation rates, cost of tuition, debt at graduation and the number of citizens in each state who hold a college degree.
Bello argues that people don’t select colleges based on the number of neighbors in the surrounding community who also hold degrees and that graduation rates are more reflective of money than academic excellence because many of those who don’t end up graduating are victims of financial circumstances and don’t necessarily stop out because of academics.
U.S. News responded in part with the following: “To ensure the Best States rankings are objective and fair, U.S. News designed the initial framework in consultation with a third party. U.S. News also weighted the eight major categories based on results from representative surveys designed to determine which factors Americans believe their home states should prioritize.”