TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, September 7, 2017

California Bar Trustees Vote 6-5 To Give Supreme Court Three Bar Exam Cut Score Options: Keep It 144, Lower To 141.4 Or 139

California Bar ExamThe Recorder, State Bar Leaves Reducing Exam Score for Supreme Court to Resolve: Bar Leaders Offer Justices a Range of Lower Scores, or Keeping It At 144:

California state bar trustees on Wednesday punted the fate of the bar exam pass score to the California Supreme Court, offering the justices a range of choices on the controversial issue, from leaving the score at 144 to lowering it to 139.

The trustees’ 6-5 vote endorsing the range reflected the contentious nature surrounding the pass score, or cut score. California law school deans, which have seen their students’ pass rates plummet in recent years, have pleaded with the bar and the Supreme Court reduce the cut score—now the second highest in the nation behind Delaware — to as low as 135. The Committee of Bar Examiners, however, endorsed maintaining the 144 score while additional studies are completed.

At a hearing Wednesday in Los Angeles, outgoing bar executive director Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker said the agency had “done as much as we can do” analyzing the issue for now, noting that the two remaining studies on the exam won’t be completed in the short term. ...

The justices of the California Supreme Court have not said when they expect to make a decision on what the cut score should be.

ABA Journal, California Bar Board of Trustees Sends State Supreme Court Three Options For Bar Exam Cut Score:

Rather than suggest to the California Supreme Court that it should or shouldn’t lower its bar exam cut score, which is currently 1440, the State Bar of California's Board of Trustees voted Wednesday in favor of providing the court with three possibilities--keep the score where it is, lower the score to 1414 or lower it to 1390.

The vote was 6-5, according to a tweet from Daily Journal staff writer Lyle Moran. ...

With a 1414 score, the 2016 bar passage rate for women would increase from 42.5 percent to 46.1 percent. With a 1390 score, the percentage rises to 51.2 percent. For men, the pass rate would rise from 44 percent to 47.4 percent with a 1414 score and 53.1 percent with a 1390 score.

By race, a 1414 cut score would have raised the passage rate by 7.2 percent for whites, 8.7 percent for Asians, 10.6 percent for Latinos and 12.5 percent for African-Americans. With a 1390 cut score, the passage rate increases would have been 17.3 percent for whites, 23.5 for Asians, 26.1 for Latinos and 40.4 percent for African-Americans.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/09/california-bar-trustees-vote-6-5-to-give-supreme-court-3-bar-exam-cut-score-options-keep-it-144-lowe.html

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