August 28, 2008
Gaming Law School Rankings
Law schools gaming the US News ranking system made the front page of the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. At issue, the fairly common practice of schools herding lower-scoring LSAT applicants into their part-time programs so that their LSAT scores don't count in the rankings. Oftentimes, part-time students transfer to full-time programs in the second year. US News ranking czar Bob Morse has indicated that he is considering revising the ranking formula to crack down on the practice. Chapman law prof Tom W. Bell and the Journal have reworked the rankings formula to illustrate the rankings decline some schools can expect if part-timer LSAT scores are included by US News. [Click on image above right for a sample; more in the article]
Phillip Closius, former dean at Toledo, current dean at Baltimore, played this game at both schools. Results: Toledo rose from the fourth tier to the second tier and Baltimore climbed the rankings to 125 this year from 170 last year. The WSJ article quotes Dean Closius who explained his behavior in these words, "U.S. News is not a moral code, it's a set of seriously flawed rules of a magazine, and I follow the rules...without hiding anything," That's right, let's just jerk law students around for the sake of a "seriously flawed" ranking score.
If only this was the most serious gaming and rankings formula issue. It isn't. See LLB's post, Fiddling with the US News Law School Ranking Formula, citing Brian Leiter's (Chicago) critique and suggestions for improving the ranking methodology in An Open Letter to Bob Morse of U.S. News. Leiter is still waiting for Morse's promised response. [JH]
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