According to an investigation released Friday, two deans of the University of Southern California School of Education ordered officials to omit key data provided for the annual U.S. News & World Report list of top graduate students that contributed to the school’s ranking.
In March, The USC announced that it had pulled Rossie School of Education withdrew from its next annual US News & World Report list after discovering a “history of inaccuracies” in data reported by the school at least five years ago. The university has commissioned an independent investigation to find out how the erroneous data came about.
Most recently, the school ranked 11th among educational institutions. Incorrect information gave the impression that “school doctoral programs were much smaller and more selective than they actually were,” according to a report by law firm Jones Day.
Report describes a practice that lasted for many years under Dean Karen Sims Gallagher, who oversaw the Rossie School from 2000 to 2020, and continued under Dean Pedro Noger, which began in 2020. Both deans signed an incorrect report, although Noger warned the school principal in late 2021 of a possible problem.
Knowledge of the practice is “no secret”, the report said, and staff at various times raised questions about its correctness.
At one point, the department’s faculty warned that they were concerned about the school’s approach and worried about what would happen “when a scandal breaks out,” the report said.
The omitted data are largely related to the selectivity of students – which accounts for 18% of the total school score.
In the doctoral reports of the school, staff members were asked to omit data from the EdD program and include only data from the PhD program, even if the survey instructions specifically requested both.
The EdD program, which typically focuses on the development of education professionals such as principals and superintendents, is larger and has a much higher level of acceptance than its PhD program, which is much more selective and aimed at developing academics and professors.
“The school has always been free not to present itself to the review of ratings in the US News; however, having decided to apply, the School had no right to create its own rules, ”the report said.
Although the report focused on student selectivity data, it noted that investigators found other possible points of incorrect reporting related to ratings that required further examination – this includes excluding data related to EdD students, practice EdD students ’reporting as“ part-time ”students, as well as potential inaccuracies in teacher employment and amount of content, among others.
Lauren Bartlett, a spokeswoman for the university, said “the USC is monitoring other issues identified in the report and will address those issues once we understand them better.”
It is unclear when the practice of dropping student selectivity data began. But it dates back to at least 2013, the report said.
Gallagher, referred to in the report as Dean 1, “realized that the exclusion of EdD data led to a higher ranking of the school than if it had been included,” the investigation found.
Angel Harachek, a lawyer representing Gallagher, did not answer questions about the report, but said that in the years when Gallagher was dean, the school focused on educating teachers. And the students who came to USC came out to the community to do good. ”
Gallagher remains a lecturer at Rossier.
In early 2021, about six months after Noguera took over the leadership of the school, he was informed with a presentation that made it clear that the school did not report all the data requested by US News.
The presentation referred to the Temple Court, a link likely to be linked to allegations that Temple University Business School officials provided false information in the US News & World Report about online and part-time master’s programs in business administration at US News & World Report to inflate the program. ‘ratings.
Earlier this year, the former dean of Temple University Business School was convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison for false reporting. Federal prosecutors said former dean Moshe Porat “conspired and conspired to deceive school entrants, students and donors into believing that the school offers top-ranked business programs.”
In December 2021, after Noger received another briefing on the subject, he consulted with Vice-Rector Charles F. Zukoski. The university launched an internal investigation and then brought in Jones Day in February.
In an interview Friday, Noguer said he believed the university’s Office of Institutional Research was verifying data provided by the school.
“It turned out not to be the case,” he said.
In a letter to Rossier’s students and staff on Friday, Noguera said he took “full responsibility for continuing the practice of inaccurate data submission to the USNWR during my first year as dean”.
“Regardless of the circumstances of the pandemic and my personal situation at the time, I as dean was and remain responsible for ensuring that USC Rossier maintains high academic standards and quality and that all our operations and conduct are ethical. ”
In a separate letter, Zukoski expressed support for Nogera, saying the dean “has done a lot and he enjoys the broad support of Rossi’s faculty and staff. The President [Carol] Folt and I are confident that he will honestly and far-sightedly advance the school. “
Zukoski said he and Nogera would work together “to carry out new oversight functions to ensure that the school always met the highest standards of excellence and integrity.”
Asked if the school plans to punish anyone involved in data misrepresentation, Bartlett, a USC spokeswoman, said the university “monitors all processes involving faculty issues. We cannot discuss the details due to the confidentiality of personnel issues. “
The education school, which previously posted rankings on its website, has now removed the material.
Noguera said he was concerned about how the rankings were used to promote the school.
“It was used to praise and encourage students to apply, and that’s really the most worrying aspect,” he said.