Paul L. Caron
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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Simkovic Weighs In On The LSAC/LST Debate Over The Use Of LSAT Scores As A Bar Passage Predictor

LSACFollowing up on yesterday's post, LSAC, LST Debate The Use Of LSAT Scores As A Bar Passage Predictor: Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Developer of Law School Admission Test (LSAT) Disputes Advocacy Group's Bar Exam Claims:

There may be legitimate concerns about long term eventual bar passage rates for some law students.  However, "Law School Transparency's" back-of-the-envelope effort, focused on short term outcomes, does not provide much insight into long-term questions.  The most rigorous study of this issue to date — the LSAC National Longitudinal Bar Passage Study — concluded that "A demographic profile that could distinguish first-time passing examinees from eventual-passing or never-passing examinees did not emerge from these data. . . . Although students of color entered law school with academic credentials, as measured by UGPA and LSAT scores, that were significantly lower than those of white students, their eventual bar passage rates justified admission practices that look beyond those measures."

Unfortunately, some newspapers reported "Law School Transparency's" bar passage risk claims in ways that suggested the claims were blessed by LSAC, or even originated from LSAC.  For example, one prominent newspaper's editorial board wrote that "In 2013, the median LSAT score of students admitted to [one law school] was in the bottom quarter of all test-takers nationwide. According to the test’s administrators, students with scores this low are unlikely to ever pass the bar exam."

Journalists should not have uncritically reported (or exaggerated) "Law School Transparency's" claims without consulting experts at LSAC, and certainly should not have attributed those claims to LSAC.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/12/simkovic-weighs-in-on-the-lsaclst-debate-over-the-use-of-lsat-scores-as-a-bar-passage-predictor.html

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Comments

"A demographic profile that could distinguish first-time passing examinees from eventual-passing or never-passing examinees did not emerge from these data. . . . Although students of color entered law school with academic credentials, as measured by UGPA and LSAT scores, that were significantly lower than those of white students, their eventual bar passage rates justified admission practices that look beyond those measures."

Those are from the executive summary of the report. Inside, though, the report says that being black, hispanic, or asian has a statistically significant negative effect on the probability of passing the bar, for equal LSAT scores and law school GPA. Undergraduate GPA's predictive power is insignificant. Also, of course, if different demographic groups have different LSATs and law school GPA's they'll have different pass rates. See http://www.unc.edu/edp/pdf/NLBPS.pdf. With reports like these, you have to be wary that the executive summary may say things opposite to what the body of the report says.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Dec 3, 2015 7:18:57 PM