The Washington Monthly’s Rankings publish four ranking list of four-year schools based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility, research, and providing opportunities for public service:
All four rankings have the same methodology and consist of three equally weighted portions: social mobility, research, and community and national service. This means that top-ranked colleges need to be excellent across the full breadth of measures, rather than excelling in just one measure. In order to ensure that each measurement contributes equally to a college’s score within any given category, each data element is standardized so that each has a mean of zero and a standard deviation of one (unless noted). There are the following indicators in each of the three area (each area makes its 100% of the score):
- the graduation rate over eight years for all students (half of that score was determined by the reported graduation rate and the other half came from comparing the reported graduation rate to a predicted graduation rate);
- the Pell graduation gap measure;
- the number of Pell recipients earning bachelor’s degrees;
- the Pell enrollment performance;
- Net price of attendance for families below $75,000 income;
- % of grads above 150% of poverty line (the share of students who earned at least 150% of the federal poverty line three years after graduating from college);
- the student loan repayment rate (the percentage of dollars borrowed that is still outstanding five years after leaving college);
- the raw repayment rate;
- the regression-adjusted repayment rate.
Each of the components listed below are weighted equally to determine a college’s final score in the category.
- the total amount of an institution’s research spending;
- the number of science and engineering PhDs awarded by the university;
- the number of undergraduate alumni who have gone on to receive a PhD in any subject, relative to the size of the college;
- the number of faculty receiving prestigious awards, relative to the number of full-time faculty;
- the number of faculty in the National Academies, relative to the number of full-time faculty.
COMMUNITY AND NATIONAL SERVICE
For each measure in this area universities were given points. The community service score was determined by measuring each college’s performance across the following measures:
- AmeriCorps/Peace Corps - AmeriCorps and Peace Corps data was compiled into a combined metric. The Ranking used an indicator for whether a college currently provides at least some matching funds for undergraduate students who had received a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award for having completed national service (two points) and a standardized measure of the share of students receiving Segal awards. The number of alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps was divided by total enrollment.
- ROTC - The Ranking judged military service by collecting data on the size of each college’s Air Force, Army, and Navy ROTC programs and dividing by the number of students.
- % of federal work-study funds spent on service - The percentage of federal work-study grant money spent on community service projects was used as a measure of how much colleges prioritize community service.
- Earns Carnegie community engagement classification? A measure was added for whether a college received the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, with listed colleges receiving two points.
- Voting engagement points - A measure of voting engagement was considered using data from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) at Tufts University and the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. Colleges could earn up to six points for fulfilling each of six criteria.
- % of grads with service-oriented majors - The percentage of all degrees awarded in health, education, and social work to reward colleges that produce leaders in socially valuable fields that are not always highly paid.