Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

McEntee:  30% Of Law Schools Would Fail Proposed New ABA 10% Attrition Accreditation Standard

ABAFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Kyle McEntee (Law School Transparency), Attrition May Jeopardize Accreditation Status Of Dozens Of Law Schools:

Earlier this month, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar took an important step towards holding law schools accountable through the accreditation standards. The committee charged with writing the law school accreditation standards voted to send a slate of accountability measures to the Council of the Section of Legal Education — the final authority for law school accreditation.

Last week I wrote about the proposed changes to the minimum bar passage standard and the transparency standard. This week, I discuss the Standards Review Committee’s proposals for refining the non-exploitation standard, Standard 501. ...

The SRC has submitted two proposals to the Council. ...

The first proposal takes no meaningful steps towards addressing the exploitative admissions policies at dozens of law schools across the country. It provides no new tools for the ABA to combat its self-inflected paralysis on the non-exploitation standard.

The second proposal tries something new, however.

Proposed Interpretation 501-3
A law school having an attrition rate for purposes other than transfers above _____ percent bears the burden of demonstrating that it is in compliance with the Standard.

The effect: create a rebuttable presumption that a school that fails out a certain percentage of students has made exploitative admissions choices. The SRC left the percentage open for the Council to determine, but during the SRC meeting the committee discussed a 10% threshold.

A rebuttable presumption of non-compliance from high attrition is a novel approach. This attempts to stop schools from enrolling too many people who don’t complete school. The downside is the incentive to keep struggling students in school. ...

Let’s look at some numbers to get a rough idea of what would happen now.

The ABA changed its attrition data collection procedures recently, so our dataset is limited to attrition for students who started in 2013 and 2014. For both years we have data about forced “academic” attrition and “other” non-transfer attrition. Under the proposed Interpretation, the combined academic and other attrition above a certain percentage trigger the rebuttable presumption of non-compliance.

The datasets for 2013 and 2014 differ in another way. The 2013 matriculant group reflects two years of possible attrition. The 2014 group reflects just one year. Third and fourth-year attrition does happen, albeit at lower rates.

Using the 10% threshold discussed at the SRC meeting, 62 law schools would be presumed non-compliant with Standard 501 for students starting in 2013. The number — again, reflecting one fewer year of attrition — for students starting in 2014 is 58.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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I disagree. The tuition is a big enough hurdle that higher grades won't matter. The kids will still learn their class rank and then the bottom half will have a big incentive to look for other work. They know what they'll face if they pay for another 2 years of tuition.

Posted by: Bobo | Feb 25, 2016 2:40:17 PM

Meaningless. The schools will just give everybody passing grades.

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Feb 25, 2016 2:21:54 PM

Simply a license to engage in grade inflation

Posted by: JeffreyL | Feb 25, 2016 1:14:00 PM

The attrition standard only works with the revised "bar pass" standard. Otherwise, imagine the horrible incentives that certain schools would have to socially promote law students and keep the attrition rate low.

Posted by: Jojo | Feb 24, 2016 6:37:49 AM