Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Academic and Bar Support Scholarship Spotlight

Scott, Jason M. (AccessLex) and Jackson, Joshua (AccessLex), What Is Quality? Advancing Value-Added Approaches to Assessing Law School Bar Exam Performance (SSRN 2022). 

From the abstract:

U.S. News & World Report rankings and tier groupings are often used as proxy measures of law school quality. But many of the factors that contribute to both law school outcomes and U.S. News rankings (e.g., undergraduate GPAs [UGPA], LSAT scores, admission rates) do not reflect the impact law schools have on student outcomes, such as bar passage and employment. We propose a method for measuring institutional quality that is based on a school’s ability to improve its graduates’ likelihood of first-time bar passage while controlling for those students’ preadmission characteristics. Using a value-added modeling technique, we first isolate each law school’s expected bar performance for the 2013–2018 bar takers given those cohorts’ entering characteristics and the school’s attrition and transfer patterns, then identify the degree to which this prediction overperforms or underperforms the school’s actual bar performance. Additionally, we utilize a bar pass differential rather than a school’s first-time bar pass rate, allowing us to account for variation between jurisdictions’ grading and cut scores. Finally, we provide a ranked list of law schools based on their added value for each entering cohort.

2.    Buffington, Joe (Albany), Conditional Answers to Multiple-Choice Questions: Three Linguistic Problems (and Solutions) for 'if', 69 J. of L. Educ. 384 (2020).

From the abstract:

Multiple-choice questions are a staple of the law school experience, and they appear on the bar exam in every state in the United States. While it’s reasonable to ask whether multiple-choice items are optimal tools for assessing whether students have accomplished curricular learning objectives or demonstrated minimum competence to practice law, the American Bar Association (ABA) requires under its standards for the accreditation of law schools that law schools prepare their students for admission to the bar, and whether schools have done so is measured in large part by their bar pass rates. If for no other reason, ABA-accredited law schools would seem to have a duty to educate their students in multiple-choice technique.

But how many law school professors are prepared to educate their students in multiple-choice technique, as opposed to the doctrine underlying the multiple-choice items, in their formative and summative assessments? Is it possible to instruct students in best techniques for answering multiple-choice questions without being aware of best practices for constructing such items?

The aim of this short article, in which I use linguistic methodology to probe some problems for using “if” as a conditional qualifier in multiple-choice answers, is to suggest that the better response to the latter question is no and from there to inspire new conversations in the legal academy regarding best practices for constructing multiple-choice items.

3.  Gutowski, Nachman (St. Thomas (FL)) and Bell, Kayla, How Are Bar Exam Results Reported? A National Guide (SSRN 2023). 

From the abstract:

Below you will find a detailed explanation of all publicly available information on every jurisdiction in the United States and if/how they release Bar Exam pass rate information. Additionally, a searchable and editable excel formatted list is available upon request to [email protected] and allows for manipulation and interaction toward creating groupings and understanding choices made. Finally, visual aids in the form of maps have been provided at the end of the document, depicting some of the most used and referenced data points to allow a quick view of the national landscape.

The impact of these choices is far-reaching. You are invited to utilize this data to support your scholarship.


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