Brooklyn Law School has been reportedly charged by unnamed rival schools of cooking the books in the figures that it gave to U.S. News and World Report. The schools called the principal to say that they believe the school was cheating and now the magazine is investigating whether Brooklyn manipulated its figures relating to part-time students.
This is the first year that schools were asked to supply data on part-time students, including undergraduate grade point averages and LSAT scores, and used in a new, separate part-time program ranking. Many schools took a hit with the inclusion of the figures but rivals charged that Brooklyn Law School excluded the part-timers. The school was No. 61 among 184 law schools.
When confronted, the school responded with three arguments. First, it acknowledged withholding data because it does not agree with the new methodology (a curious stance since it agreed to participate in the rankings). The school insisted: “For many years, we have engaged U.S. News editors in debate over what we regard as flaws in its rankings methodology. An important aspect of this debate has been our position that it is inappropriate to consider the numerical credentials (LSAT and GPA) of part-time students on the same basis as full-time students.”
Second, it suggested that there may have been an inadvertent error. Finally, it argued that the missing numbers would not have made a big difference. The school stated in part:
Accordingly, when we completed the 2009 questionnaire, we reported the LSAT/GPA information about our full-time students. Consistent with prior practice, we left blank the questions about LSAT/GPA of part-time students. Following these two questions was a question that sought combined LSAT/GPA information for all entering students – full-time and part-time. In prior years, we had left that line blank. This year, however, we mistakenly inserted only the information provided for the previous two questions – the LSAT/GPA information for our full-time students. This error was completely inadvertent. There was no intention to hide the existence of our part-time program, as evidenced by substantial other information we provided about our part-time program elsewhere in the questionnaire. Moreover, given the one point difference between the LSAT median of 163 for our full-time students and the LSAT median of 162 for our entire class, we do not know what effect, if any, the omission of data about our part- time students would have had on our U.S. News ranking.
The magazine will decide if this is a new version of buying the Brooklyn Bridge or just a misunderstanding.
What is striking is how this rankings has grown to such importance that it now has competitors policing the ranks, which is a good deterrent to gaming the system.
For the statement on the controversy from the school, click here.
For the full story, click here.