On Monday, the news broke nationwide that since 2005, Claremont McKenna College (CMC) had reported inflated SAT scores to the Department of Education, U.S. News & World Report, and various credit rating firms in efforts to elevate the college's ranking. The Forum, Claremont McKenna's student newspaper, reported that President Pamela Gann stated in a Monday morning email to the community that "a senior administrator in the Office of Admissions disclosed that he had been solely responsible for falsely reporting SAT statistics since 2005."
The New York Times identified the senior administrator as Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Richard Vos, who resigned from his post on Monday. Gann's email noted that since 2005, the SAT scores of Claremont McKenna's incoming classes have been inflated by an average of 10 to 20 points; the most recently released SAT data for CMC reports a combined median score of 1,410 for the incoming Class of 2010, though Gann wrote that the actual figure is 1,400. The Claremont Port Side conducted a separate investigation and found that critical reading scores were increased by an average of 17 points, while math scores were enhanced by an average of 10.5 points.
The Port Side reported that "the score manipulations hid the fact that the freshmen admitted in 2011—the Class of 2015—had mean Critical Reading scores that were the lowest since the class admitted in 2007."
CMC is now ranked ninth in the U.S. News rankings of the best liberal arts colleges—just behind Bowdoin, Carleton and Wellesley, which are currently tied for sixth place. SAT scores are only a small part of the formula that determines the U.S. News rankings; in an interview with NPR on Tuesday, U.S. News Director of Data Research Robert Morse said that the misreported scores are not likely to severely affect CMC's standing in the national rankings.
"It's certainly not going to drop the school to 20th place, but I guess there's some chance that it could drop out of the top 10," he said.
CMC President Gann met with reporters from The Claremont Port Side and The Forum on Thursday to explain the sequence of events leading up to the discovery. The Forum reported that Gann said the matter was first brought to her attention on January 9 when a member of the CMC community questioned the accuracy of the reported scores for the incoming class. Gann then asked Vice President Jerome Garris to investigate, and on January 25 Garris notified her of his findings, which revealed that an admissions employee had been reporting false SAT data.
On Wednesday CMC released corrected admissions data, according to The Forum's report. In her letter to the community, Gann noted that CMC has hired the legal firm O'Melveny & Myers to review how the college processes admissions data. Additionally, CMC has revised the method by which it releases admissions data. From now on, two vice presidents of the college who are unaffiliated with the CMC admissions office will have to sign off on admissions data before it is sent out.
The New York Times report on the incident notes that other colleges have been found to have falsely reported data. Last year, Villanova University School of Law admitted to purposely reporting false data, and this fall Iona College admitted to misreporting not only admissions data but also acceptance and retention rates, among other statistics.