U.S. News & World Report, whose college rankings help control the pocketbooks of parents, has just sanctioned George Washington University for cheating in its data over the past decade, inflating its students at the top of their high school classes.

GWU notified U.S. News of the discrepancy, and the magazine has shifted the school to "unranked" status, dropping it from a No. 51 rating.

The key statistic for incoming 2011 freshmen was reported as 78 percent in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. The corrected number is 58 percent.

"Because of the discrepancy in the rankings, U.S. News has changed George Washington University from being a ranked school to an "unranked" school in the Best Colleges section of usnews.com. Unranked means that U.S. News did not calculate a numerical ranking for this school," the magazine reported.

George Washington is the third such school to be linked to data fixing this year. Earlier this year, Emory University in Atlanta got caught after inflating ACT and SAT scores for students over a number of years.

And in January, Claremont McKinna College in Southern California made a similar admission, helping lift the college from 11th best liberal arts college to 9th in the most recent rankings.

Claremont McKinna apparently fired the official involved.

"As an institution of higher education with a deep and consistent commitment to the integrity of all our academic activities, and particularly our reporting of institutional data, we take this situation very seriously," President Pamela B. Gann wrote in a memo distributed on campus, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at eschulzke@desnews.com.