Paul L. Caron

Friday, May 28, 2010

U.S. News Responds to SALT's Call for a Rankings Boycott

U.S. News Logo Following up on Tuesday's post, SALT Calls for U.S. News Rankings Boycott: Robert Morse, Director of Data Research at U.S. News, responds in Group Tries to Start Boycott of U.S. News Law School Rankings:

Here’s the U.S. News take on this: SALT’s focus on the U.S. News ranking and the use of the LSAT in the rankings is misplaced.  The median LSAT scores of the most recent entering class does count for 12.5% of each law school’s overall score in the ranking.

However, it’s important to remember that U.S. News does not sit in law school admission offices or make admission decisions on specific candidates, it does not set admissions standards for law schools,  it did not decide that LSAT scores are required for law school admission, and it has not published studies like the Law School Admissions Council—the organization that runs the LSAT test—has that state that LSAT scores are linked to law school performance. 

Based on our research, LSAT scores are the most important indicator of whether an applicant will be admitted to a particular school. They also are standardized, making them a key tool to compare schools, unlike undergraduate grade point averages. As long as the ABA requires the LSAT as part of admissions, U.S. News will keep LSAT scores in the ranking formula.  

SALT contends that some law schools manage their LSAT scores because of our ranking, and that the median score inhibits law schools from taking students whose LSAT profile is at a far lower level than their standard.

U.S. News believes that its law school rankings are not hindering diversity at law schools since we use the median (or midpoint)—not the average—LSAT scores and undergraduate grade point averages as ranking factors. The median gives schools considerable flexibility to accept students with very low LSAT and undergraduate grades without lowering the school’s actual median LSAT and grade-point average—and in turn, without negatively affecting their U.S. News rankings.

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