Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Illinois Reported Inflated LSAT, GPA Medians for Past Four Years

Illinois Logo Following up on my prior post, Illinois Bombshell: Class of 2014 Median LSAT/GPA Is 163/3.70, Not 168/3.81:  Illinois today issued this press release:

In an investigation into the past 10 years of College of Law test scores and grade point averages (GPA), the ongoing University-initiated review has determined that inaccurate data were reported for four of those years. The findings indicate inaccurate data were entered that improved the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and GPA information describing the enrolled classes of 2011 through 2014.





Class of 2011








Class of 2012








Class of 2013








Class of 2014









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The problem is that the LSAT is a scaled test and the number of test takers is dropping. Because the test is scaled to the median, the number of high scoring students is proportional to the number of test takers. If the number of test takers drops, there will be fewer high scores and the median LSAT of accepted students will fall. Therefore, there is more competition for the high scoring students. Most schools should have had reductions in the reported 75% and 25% percentile LSAT scores. However, schools face pressure to increase the credentials of their incoming classes to maintain or improve their USNWR ranking. Illinois likely won't be the only school to fall into this trap.

Posted by: Blunt Instrument | Sep 29, 2011 9:36:45 PM

I hope they are bankrupted by lawsuits. Small recompense for what the parasites of the legal profession have inflicted on all the rest of us, but we'll take our schadenfreude where we can get it.

Posted by: John Skookum | Sep 29, 2011 7:16:44 PM

Illinois has a history of decidedly questionable behavior as to rankings-related reporting and the admissions process there has been questioned even apart from rankings data.

It is worth noting that the items listed below (as well as several years of the admissions data above, occurred under the previous dean, Heidi Hurd.

For instance:

1. 2005


As part of its methodology, U.S. News factors in how much a law school spends per student. But just how those costs are calculated has become a matter of considerable discussion, both in legal education circles and at the American Bar Association.

Consider library costs at the University of Illinois College of Law in Urbana-Champaign. Like all law schools, Illinois pays a flat rate for unlimited access to LexisNexis and Westlaw's comprehensive online legal databases. Law students troll them for hours, downloading and printing reams of case law. To build user loyalty, the two suppliers charge institutions a total of $75,000 to $100,000 a year, far below per-use rates.

But in what it calls a longstanding practice, Illinois has calculated a fair market value for these online legal resources and submitted that number to U.S. News. For this year's rankings, the school put that figure at $8.78 million, more than 80 times what LexisNexis and Westlaw actually charge. This inflated expense accounted for 28 percent of the law school's total expenditures on students, according to confidential data filed with U.S. News and the bar association and provided to The New York Times by legal educators who are critical of rankings and concerned about the accurate reporting of data.

2. 2009,0,3541380.story?page=1

Acquiesence in admitting underqualified but politically connected applicants, seemingly linked to requests by Dean for help finding jobs for graduates.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 29, 2011 1:37:23 PM

Honestly, I wish every institution would enter BS data into US News' data requests.

Posted by: Blue | Sep 29, 2011 12:43:20 PM

False Claims Act? After all, the school induced the submission of claims for payment of US money (i.e. student loan money) on false pretenses. Such a suit wouldn't be fundamentally different from the common FCA suit against drug companies for off-label promotion (thus, as a legal matter, inducing the submission of claims for payment of US money (i.e. medicare funding) on "false" pretenses).

Posted by: Jim DC | Sep 29, 2011 11:41:16 AM

Every year the GPA's are reported to one significant digit until it got inflated to 3.8. Then, it would have been to obvious, so the final year it was inflated to 3.81. The problem was in plain view.

If reported GPA's are rounded to the nearest one-hundreth of a point, why are reported LSAT scores rounded to the nearest point? Want to bet the rounding was always up?

And doesn't it seem suspect that the actual GPA's and LSAT's are all perfectly rounded? Real data are never that clean.

Posted by: Hari | Sep 29, 2011 10:42:11 AM

How can they keep a straight face if they catch a student plagiarizing, or cheating on an exam?

Posted by: Ernie G | Sep 29, 2011 10:38:06 AM

"drifting towards moral bankruptcy"

Racing, actually.

And they crossed the finish line about 15 or 20 years ago.

But don't worry, the profs will claim complete ignorance of the mechanics of how their institutions manage to pay them six figure salaries for 6 hours of in-class work per week.

Posted by: cas127 | Sep 29, 2011 10:25:05 AM

First day of law school, I was subjected to orientation where ethics was stressed. I was told that as a lawyer all I have to offer is my time, so my time is money, and no one will purchase my time if I do not have integrity and adhere to a strict moral code of professional responsibility. We have a code of ethics that all law students must follow that the law school enforces. We have to take a professional responsibility class, even though it does not prepare one for the MPRE because it does not cover all the topics taught on that exam (so one wonders what the heck the class is for?). How come KAPLAN and BARBRI can give me a book that is less than 500 pages and one morning session prepare me for the MPRE, but this class with a case book of over 1000 pages and a semester of classes cannot. Anyway, one must assume it is to stress ethics. This emphasis to the students fails by the wayside because all law schools have accurate information about their student body and what happens to the students 9 months out of graduation. Independently, all of these schools could post on their website proper statistics such as: GPA/LSAT, number with jobs before graduation, at graduation, after passing the bar, and 9 months out (next Feb). They all have them! But none will disclose. I've asked my school for this information, I got it in a private office meeting. I ask why not disclose? Answer: don't have to. They tell me to go over and beyond in being an ethical attorney, well...lead by example is my response. (of course I'll be ethical despite what law schools do)

Posted by: J. Young | Sep 29, 2011 10:13:45 AM

How do you confuse a 163 with a 168?!?!

Posted by: Major Payne | Sep 29, 2011 7:42:12 AM

Law schools -- perhaps higher ed. as a whole -- seems to be drifting towards moral bankruptcy. What other reported numbers are off at Illinois and elsewhere? Surely employment figures are inflated nearly everywhere. How do so many schools boast stellar employment statistics when there are so many unemployed (or underemployed), newly minted law grads? Yet these same institutions preach professional responsibility and integrity? I am drowning in the hypocrisy.

Posted by: Law Student | Sep 28, 2011 6:04:15 PM

So many comments to make, but they've all been made before.

This is really depressing and embarrassing - why are there so many issues with law schools acting ethically? Come on professors, please take ownership and demand change at your institutions, the U.S. News excuse is dead.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 28, 2011 1:25:49 PM