July 7, 2008
Fiddling with the US News Law School Ranking Formula
|Gaming US News Rankings by Accepting 1L Transfers|
Are some law schools gaming US News rankings by accepting a large number of 1L transfers? Check out what Bill Henderson (Indiana), Brian Leiter (Texas) and Larry Ribstein (Illinois) have to say on the issue:
Recently Bob Morse reported that US News was reviewing two changes to its law school ranking methodology: (1) including part-time JD students in its calculation of median GPA and LSAT; and (2) using only the bar passage rate for ABA-approved law schools in calculating the relative success of a school's graduates on the bar. Brian Leiter (Texas) reviews the proposed changes on Brian Leiter's Law School Reports. See also Daniel J. Solove's (George Washington) recent post, Should the US News Ranking Include Part-Time and Evening Law Students?, the National Law Journal article, Change Ahead for Law School Rankings? (reporting that some deans oppose the idea of including part-time students' scores), and Bob Morse's response to Leiter on part-time students.
Characterizing the two proposals as "barely scratch[ing] the surface of the litany of fatal problems now afflicting the U.S. News rankings," Leiter, author of Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings, links to his earlier Open Letter to to Bob Morse of U.S. News post which suggested more substantial reforms to the US News law school ranking methodology, namely (1) changing the way data is collected for the reputational surveys; (2) aggressively auditing law school supplied data used in the rankings; and (3) eliminating the use of expenditures and law school supplied employment data.
All excellent suggestions, particularly those that relate to US News' current use of unaudited law school supplied data which is, as Leiter states in his Open Letter, "the source of most of the egregious trickery and deceit that renders the results dubious." Compare the methodology used for MacLean's Canadian law school rankings, which Leiter helped develop: The methodology behind the law school rankings; A Q&A with Professor Brian Leiter.
BTW, why isn't the legal academy's accreditation cartel auditing the so-called "objective data" law schools supply in their annual reports? Too much work? Then require that the submitted data be audited by an outside firm.
Endnote: Mark Osler (Baylor) has proposed a "BCS-style" law school ranking methodology that uses the US News results, weighted at 50% of the total score, plus results from five additional rankings, each weighted at 10%: (1) Internet Legal Research Group; (2) Law School100.com; (3) Cooley Rankings; (4) Leiter Rankings; and (5) Hylton Rankings. Check out the top 20 law schools from the "alpha test version" of this ranking system. Osler asks for suggestions. Here's mine: weigh all rankings equally and for god's sake don't include the Cooley Rankings! [JH]
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