Saturday, February 19, 2011
National Law Journal, California Bar wants 'U.S. News' to Add Diversity as Factor in Law School Rankings
Should diversity be a factor in the U.S. News & World Report rankings?
The State Bar of California thinks so. Its Council on Access & Fairness — essentially a think tank on diversity — is finalizing a proposal that calls on U.S. News to adjust its formula so that diversity accounts for 15% of the overall law school rankings.
U.S. News publishes a law school diversity index each year that measures the relative diversity of student bodies, but diversity is not a factor in the overall rankings. ...
[D]evising a credible measure of diversity is easier said than done, said U.S. News director of data and research Bob Morse. He has yet to see the council's proposal, which is scheduled to be completed in the spring, but one of the problems that consistently crops up in diversity discussions is that there is no clear way to compare the diversity of a student body of a school in an ethically diverse state such as California to the diversity in a largely white state such as Kansas. ...
Under the current ranking formula, the "quality assessment" accounts for 40% of a school's score and is determined by peer reviews and surveys of judges and attorneys. Selectivity accounts for 25%, and is determined by median LSAT scores, median GPAs and acceptance rates. Placement success is 20% of the rankings, and includes graduate employment rates and bar passage rates. Finally, faculty resources such as per-student expenditures account for 15%.
The council's proposal recommends reducing the weight of the quality assessment to 20%, and reducing the weight of selectivity to 20%, in part by lowering the weight of the median LSAT score. Placement success would remain at 20% while faculty recourses would increase to 20%. A new category of academic support for students would account for 5% of rankings. The biggest change, however, would be the addition of a new [15%] diversity category that would evaluate what schools are doing to promote diversity on campus. ...
Moreover, there is still a question of whether diversity should be included in the rankings, given that the purpose of the rankings is to identify the best schools, he said. Another part of the debate is to what degree diversity is linked to academic quality versus being an important social goal," Morse said.