Paul L. Caron

Friday, December 9, 2022

A Law School Rankings Revolution? Hardly.

Chronicle of Higher Education, A Rankings Revolution? Hardly.:

US News (2023)In a recent Chronicle essay, President Leon Botstein of Bard College asks: “Can We Finally Topple the Tyranny of Rankings?” In posing this question, Botstein echoes Colin Diver, the former college president and law-school dean who recently asked, “Could this be the beginning of the end for college rankings?” in The New York Times. Like many others commenting on law schools’ withdrawal from submitting data for the U.S. News & World Report rankings, Botstein and Diver are hopeful that this may be an opportunity to ditch rankings once and for all. They are not alone. Wishing “death to college rankings,” as two Financial Times journalists recently put it, has become a widely shared sentiment in academe and beyond. ...

The law schools that have decided to withdraw all seem to agree about one thing: The current U.S. News rankings methodology does not reflect their values and creates perverse incentives that are not in the best interests of law schools, students, or the legal profession.  ... In short, the message of the Great Rankings Resistance of 2022 is: We, America’s top-ranked law schools, have no issues with being ranked. We have issues with how we are being ranked. ...

The law schools’ “rebellion against rankings,” to use Botstein’s phrase, isn’t really a rebellion against rankings. It’s a minor sortie, a handful of superwealthy schools simply not wanting to play ball — for now — with U.S. News. I would not be surprised if this turns out to even strengthen the rankers’ grip on higher ed. After all, there’s no shortage of well-resourced organizations out there prepared and possibly eager to challenge the dominant position of U.S. News. They might happily provide more methodological give-and-take to the institutions they rank. What could possibly go wrong? Decades of research into the effects of rankings and other kinds of metrics on higher ed would say: A lot.

U.S. News coverage:


U.S. News Response to Boycott

Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink