Bucknell Says It Inflated SAT Scores, May Destroy College Rankings Systems

Turns out those smart kids at Bucknell University … aren’t so smart:

The president of Bucknell University says an internal investigation has revealed that school officials falsified students’ average SAT scores.

President John Bravman says mean SAT results were inflated over the past seven years by about 16 points on a 1,600-point scale.

Bravman disclosed the problem in a letter Friday to students, staff and alumni of the selective liberal arts school in central Pennsylvania.

Inside Higher Ed says the scandal should make it harder to rely on rankings like those generated by US News & World Report:

David Hawkins, director of public policy and research for the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said via e-mail that “these actions are the result and responsibility of both individuals and the institutions for which they work,” but that there was also a broader context behind all of these incidents.

“The emphasis placed on an institution’s ‘selectivity,’ particularly as defined by standardized test scores, has gone beyond the rational and become something of an obsession. NACAC believes it is time for all stakeholders, including institutions, rankings, bond rating companies, merit scholarships, boards of trustees, alumni, and many others, to reassess the emphasis that is placed on ‘input’ factors like standardized test scores, and focus on the value colleges add to students’ postsecondary experiences once they are on campus, regardless of the supposed ‘selectivity’ of the campus.”

Bravman posted a long statement about the transgression to the university website:

It is often the case that an institution can demonstrate more about its character by how it handles situations when it makes mistakes than when it does things right. We are correcting the record with our Bucknell community and with all bodies to which the University had provided incorrect information, and I appreciate profoundly knowing that I can trust this Board to stand with us in protecting the privacy of the students whose data were so terribly mishandled.

Bucknell is located in central Pennsylvania, northwest of Philadelphia.