Students at Claremont McKenna College told ABC News today they were “in shock” at recent news that for the past six years the small, prestigious school had bumped up the SAT scores of its incoming freshmen in an effort to boost the school’s ranking in the influential U.S. News and World Report’s listing.
“There’s some negative feelings going around,” said Sam Kahr, a student at the Claremont, Calif., college. “But we are the first people to openly come out and acknowledge that we have done this, and I feel that deserves merit on the part of the administration.”
On Monday, Pamela Gann, Claremont McKenna’s president, released a statement to students and faculty, saying that “a senior administrator” had resigned after admitting to being “solely responsible for falsely reporting SAT statistics since 2005.”
Gann said in her statement that “the reported critical reading and/or math SAT scores were generally inflated by an average of 10-20 points.”
She said that the school did not believe anyone else was involved and that legal counsel would independently review the school’s admission-related data processes.
The Los Angeles Times reported today that Richard Vos, the school’s vice president, dean of admissions and financial aid, had been removed from the college’s website Monday and that he was no longer employed at the school.
Claremont McKenna has about 1,200 students and is known for its strong emphasis on political science and economics.
“I think the school did show a lot of integrity in how they’re dealing with this,” senior Greg Zahner said. “One person made a mistake. He’s paying the price. [The school] could have swept it under the rug. … But they were open and honest about it.”
U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Claremont McKenna ninth among the country’s liberal arts colleges for 2012, released a statement today on its website, saying that it would review new SAT scores sent from the school and “estimate its actual impact on Claremont McKenna College’s rankings and publish that information” online.
Brian Kelly, the editor of U.S. News and World Report, told ABC News today however that he didn’t think the inflated SAT scores would affect the school’s overall score “all that much.” SAT scores account for 7.5 percent of a school’s total score.
“It’s not huge,” Kelly said. “We fold a lot of different kinds of measurements (such as class rank, acceptance rates and student selectivity) together to come up with our ranking.”
Gracie Mahan, a Claremont McKenna student, said the incident was embarrassing.
“Knowing that the scores were changed … it’s a very serious issue,” she said. “I think a lot of kids make their college decision off what the scores look like at a school. It’s unacceptable for these numbers to have been tampered with.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.