School rankings are often based off of a variety of data points, which are gathered either through surveys or through analysis of already existing numbers. These areas of analysis often include academic performance, student experience, diversity, student involvement in extracurricular activities and student culture.
Academic achievements are not the only factor that is taken into consideration when ranking a school. Institutions often weigh the other factors, as there are more aspects to any given school than students' grades. However, the utilization of academic achievement in rankings is still the most common factor, as it is the easiest to measure.
Other factors, including the student experiences and student culture categories, are more difficult to gather date and information about to create data points for referencing when ranking schools. However, this does not mean they are not considered. More often than not, surveys are conducted anonymously and are given to either students or parents in order to assign numerical values to responses that would normally not be numerical in nature. For example, student and parent satisfaction surveys are often used to turn open response questions into data points through the use of scales. Once this process is complete, schools can then analyze the data.