Oklahoma's national universities held steady or edged downward in a national ranking of colleges and universities released Tuesday.
The 2014 U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges ranking was released Tuesday. The report ranks schools nationwide in a number of categories, including performance criteria like graduation rates and freshman retention rates, as well as other factors like selectivity.
None of Oklahoma's three national universities — the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the University of Tulsa — moved up in this year's ranking. OU was tied with seven other schools for 101st place, the same ranking it received for the past two years.
In a statement, OU President David Boren said he was pleased with the ranking. Boren said the university doesn't place great emphasis on the ranking because they aren't based on evaluation of the university's academic programs.
OSU moved down slightly, dropping from 139th last year to 142nd this year, where it's tied with seven other schools. OSU dropped in the ranking last year as well, falling from 132nd place the previous year.
Although it moved down in the ranking, TU fared best of Oklahoma's three universities. The university was ranked 86th, where it was tied with the University of Alabama, University of California — Santa Cruz and the University of Colorado Boulder. TU also moved down in last year's ranking, falling to 83rd last year from 75th the previous year.
Meanwhile, two of Oklahoma City's regional universities — Oklahoma City University and Oklahoma Christian University — climbed in the rankings. OCU moved from 26th place among western regional universities last year to 24th place this year. OC moved up one space, climbing from 43rd place last year to 42nd place this year.
Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News and World Report, said changes in the way the rankings are calculated may have caused schools to move up or down in the rankings.
This year's scoring methods were changed to place greater emphasis on performance factors like six-year college graduation rates and freshman retention, Morse said. Other factors, including selectivity, play a lesser role than they have in years past, he said.
While those changes may have caused some schools to move up or down in the rankings, other schools may see changes because they performed better or worse than they had in certain categories.
“You have to look at schools on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
The U.S. News and World Report list is one of the most widely known college ranking guides in the country. But critics say they aren't an accurate representation of how colleges actually perform.
During a speech on college affordability last month at the University at Buffalo, President Barack Obama singled the rankings out, saying they focus too little on educational outcomes and present too many opportunities for colleges and universities to manipulate their scores.
“It actually rewards them, in some cases, for raising costs,” Obama said. “I think we should rate colleges based on opportunity.”
Last month, Obama directed U.S. Department of Education officials to develop an alternative college rating system that they say would allow students and parents to pick a school based on value and affordability.