US News delays med school rankings after 'unprecedented' inquiries

U.S. News & World Report has pushed back the release date for its best law and medical schools. 

The publication originally planned to release the lists on Tuesday, April 18. 

"As part of its normal graduate school ranking publication process every year, U.S. News gives schools an opportunity to review their data during an 'embargo period,'" the publication told media representatives in an April 14 email. "This year, we received an unprecedented number of inquiries from schools and are devoting additional time to comprehensively address these inquiries." 

The medical and law school rankings will be released "when this work has been completed," according to the publication. 

The announcement follows months of controversy surrounding U.S. News' ranking process. Discussions began gathering steam in November, when six major law schools withdrew from the process, stating they would no longer provide data to the prestigious tiering system. Medical schools began to do the same in January, led by Boston-based Harvard Medical School. 

Over the course of one month, more than a dozen medical schools had joined the exodus — many of which had been highly ranked in the past, including Stanford (Calif.) School of Medicine, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City and the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

The schools overwhelmingly cited inclusion efforts as reasons for their departures, calling current ranking policies too reductive. They alleged that peer assessments from deans, admissions directors and academics create an elitist "legacy" mentality. Plus, reliance on standardized test scores reduces complex students and institutions to numbers, some said. 

On April 15, the publication previewed a list of the top 15 medical schools for research. The list was crafted using updated methodology that sought to prioritize outcomes for students, including the addition of NIH Grant Awards as a measure of research quality; increased weight of faculty-to-student ratios; and reduced weight of reputation surveys, MCAT and GPA scores. 

More than half of the listed schools had boycotted the rankings, and were ranked by U.S. News using publicly available data.

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