Thursday, February 2, 2017
The Recorder, California Law School Deans Want Bar Exam Pass Score Lowered:
The deans of 20 California law schools on Wednesday asked the state Supreme Court to temporarily lower the bar exam’s minimum passing score to let the State Bar study whether the number is unjustifiably high. [Only UC-Davis Dean Kevin Johnson did not sign the letter.]
The request comes after the pass rate for the summer 2016 test plummeted to 43 percent, the lowest figure for a July sitting in 32 years. First-time test-takers among American Bar Association-accredited schools in California did better—62 percent passed—but still lagged significantly behind their counterparts in other states, including New York, Texas and Ohio.
The deans blame California’s “atypically high” passing score, or cut score, of 144 for the multistate bar exam portion of the test. Only Delaware requires a higher score  on its exam. And yet those who took the California exam scored almost three points higher on the multistate bar exam than the national average.
“California graduates of ABA-accredited schools are performing better than average, and yet many of them—graduates of our law schools who would have passed the bar with similar performance in virtually any other state—are failing it in our great state, simply because of where California has decided to draw the line between passing and failing,” the deans wrote in their letter.
The letter recommends that the high court, exercising its jurisdiction over the State Bar, reduce the cut score to between 133 and 136 “to bring our exam in line with the approach taken by other economically significant states. We believe this standard should be maintained until the state can complete a full study of the bar exam,” the letter said.
Wall Street Journal, California Law Deans Urge Court to Address Low Bar-Passage Rates
Previous TaxProf Blog coverage:
- July 2016 California Bar Exam (Nov. 22, 2016)
- More On The California Bar Exam (Dec. 5, 2016)
- Who Is To Blame For UC-Hastings 'Horrific' 51% Bar Pass Rate? (Dec. 7, 2016)
- July 2016 California Bar Exam Results: Nine Law Schools (Including UC-Hastings) Are At Risk Of Failing ABA's Proposed New Bar Passage Accreditation Standard (Dec. 13, 2016)
- Anderson: Deans, Denial, And The California Bar Exam (Dec. 20, 2016)
- Despite 'Horrific' 51% Bar Passage Rate, New UC-Hastings Dean Says School Is Poised To 'Catapult Into National Preeminence' Using NYU As A Model (Dec. 21, 2016)
- California Law School Bar Pass Rates Recalculated For New York: Stanford, UCB, USC > NYU; UCI, UCLA > Columbia; Chapman, Loyola, McGeorge, Pepperdine, Santa Clara, UCD, USD > Fordham (Dec. 22, 2016)
- More On The July 2016 California Bar Exam (Dec. 26, 2016)
- California Bar Exam Carnage Extends To Out-Of-State Law Schools (Jan. 24, 2017)
- California’s New Bar Exam Format And ABA’s Proposed 75% Bar Passage Requirement Will Adversely Impact Diversity, Women, And Access To The Legal Profession (Jan. 30, 2017)