Self-Made Curve?: U.S. News and World Report To Investigate Brooklyn Law School’s Ranking and Data

250px-Brooklyn_Law_School_2Brooklyn 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.

23 thoughts on “Self-Made Curve?: U.S. News and World Report To Investigate Brooklyn Law School’s Ranking and Data”

  1. Bron,

    First off, I generally amend it to “life imitates GOOD art.”

    Secondly, superior by what standards? There’s no real superior when it comes to successful species, just different. If you mean dominate… well dominate species come and go. Most of what people use to separate us from “the animals” is possessed to some degree by other species (particularly primates, I suggest The Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors if you’re interested in that subject). I agree with you 100% that we have a right (I’d even call it a duty) to do our best to flourish as a species. Just like every other species.

    The idea that we’re “the center of our world” is hubris, pure and simple. There are so many variables that we don’t control and so many unknown consequences to our actions that to think that we “create our environment” is a very dangerous type of egotism. My sister-in-law is a very bad driver, because she doesn’t acknowledge that others on the road should have any effect on how she drives. She speeds, swerves through traffic, turns around to yell at her kids, all because in her mind she’s in charge of how she drives, so she’s got a right to get to where she’s going however she wants.

    The conservation arguments are sort of secondary to why I don’t like any philosophy that either implicitly or explicitly has “man is the purpose of the universe” as one of it’s premises. The point is: It’s completely wrong. I’ve yet to hear one good reason why it should be used as a premise other than “that’s just how it seems.” I’m willing to accept things as “useful fictions,” (Newtonian Physics, Free Will, that our currency has actual worth), but I don’t see how this could possibly fit in that category. I’m willing to change my mind though, if you can explain it’s utility, please do.

  2. Where do you get the “unnamed rival school” part of your report? I think diligent blogs came up with the story.

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