Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Following up on my previous coverage (links below): The Recorder, Frustrated Law Deans Take Bar-Exam Complaints to Lawmakers:
The head of California’s state bar told lawmakers on Tuesday “there’s no good answer” for why the state requires the second-highest bar exam passing score in the nation.
“For many years it was seen as a point of pride that it was such a rigorous exam but perhaps it’s time now to look again,” Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker said at an Assembly Judiciary Committee hearing. “Is it doing what we want? Is it a fair exam? Is the pass score effectively set where it is? When you ask why is [the multistate bar exam cut score] set at 144, I’m embarrassed to tell you there’s no good answer.”
California's high pass-score has been under attack since November when the bar revealed that just 43 percent of those taking the July exam earned a passing score—a 32-year low. California test-takers scored higher on the multistate bar exam portion of the exam than the national average, but their pass rate lagged behind peers in other states where the required score is lower.
Twenty of 21 California law schools approved by the American Bar Association signed a letter this month asking the state Supreme Court to temporarily lower the scoring requirement while the bar studies the cause of the slide. The court has not responded publicly. But the issue has caught the attention of legislators, who devoted three hours Tuesday to studying the complexities of law school admissions and testing—and hearing from frustrated law deans. ...
“The effect of this low bar passage rate is to put our students and our law schools at a competitive disadvantage,” said Stephen Ferruolo, dean of the University of San Diego Law School. “The low bar passage rate is also I believe adversely impacting the quality of the California bar and the preparedness of California lawyers.”
Previous TaxProf Blog coverage:
- July 2016 California Bar Exam (Nov. 22, 2016)
- More On The California Bar Exam (Dec. 5, 2016)
- Who Is To Blame For UC-Hastings 'Horrific' 51% Bar Pass Rate? (Dec. 7, 2016)
- July 2016 California Bar Exam Results: Nine Law Schools (Including UC-Hastings) Are At Risk Of Failing ABA's Proposed New Bar Passage Accreditation Standard (Dec. 13, 2016)
- Anderson: Deans, Denial, And The California Bar Exam (Dec. 20, 2016)
- Despite 'Horrific' 51% Bar Passage Rate, New UC-Hastings Dean Says School Is Poised To 'Catapult Into National Preeminence' Using NYU As A Model (Dec. 21, 2016)
- California Law School Bar Pass Rates Recalculated For New York: Stanford, UCB, USC > NYU; UCI, UCLA > Columbia; Chapman, Loyola, McGeorge, Pepperdine, Santa Clara, UCD, USD > Fordham (Dec. 22, 2016)
- More On The July 2016 California Bar Exam (Dec. 26, 2016)
- California Bar Exam Carnage Extends To Out-Of-State Law Schools (Jan. 24, 2017)
- California’s New Bar Exam Format And ABA’s Proposed 75% Bar Passage Requirement Will Adversely Impact Diversity, Women, And Access To The Legal Profession (Jan. 30, 2017)
- Deans Of 20 Of California's 21 ABA-Accredited Law Schools Ask State Supreme Court To Lower Bar Exam Pass Score (Feb. 2, 2017)