Today I spoke to both a representative from USNWR, and to Lloyd Thacker, the director of the Education Conservancy, a group leading the movement against the current rankings system. The magazine emphasizes its own transparency in its methodology, and points out that the rankings are targeted toward prospective college students -- not college presidents.
Thacker, though, describes a growing movement that he said has already garnered the formal support of nearly 30 schools. He says that many more may soon be signing on, and hopes for a future in which the USNWR rankings become an anachronism because colleges themselves will be sharing hard data all around. He even has a tagline for the movement: "Beyond Ranking," as opposed to (another tagline) "ranksteering."
Both sides certainly have quite a bit at stake in the battle. I'm working on an upcoming piece on the this for our media analysis section so keep your eyes open for the hot college-on-college action!