Grade Inflation: Magazine Says Brooklyn Law School’s Ranking Was Inflated By Omission of Part-Time Student Scores

250px-Brooklyn_Law_School_2U.S. News & World Report’s chief rankings officer Bob Morse has released a statement on the controversy over Brooklyn Law School’s rankings. Morse has confirmed that the school inflated its ranking by not reporting part-time students but the magazine will not adjust the ranking this year.

Morse stated:

Brooklyn Law would have ranked lower in the 2010 Best Law Schools ranking if the original combined all-students data it entered in October had been used in the rankings. Additionally, if Brooklyn had reported its part-time admissions data, it would have appeared in the new, separate rankings for part-time law programs.

U.S. News is not going to recalculate Brooklyn’s law school rank. Next year, when U.S. News produces the 2011 rankings, if schools with part-time programs leave the part-time fields blank or incorrectly report full-time data in fields meant for their combined class, U.S. News will fill in those fields using the information for those schools that was published in the previous year’s American Bar Association report.

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6 thoughts on “Grade Inflation: Magazine Says Brooklyn Law School’s Ranking Was Inflated By Omission of Part-Time Student Scores”

  1. Here is an update on the law school rating issue:

    QUOTE The ABA will study how a variety of organizations rank law firms and law schools. The debate in the ABA’s House of Delegates about the measure proved to be the most contentious of any resolution it considered today.

    Resolution 10A, passed by a narrow voice vote, was prompted by a forthcoming ranking of law firms nationwide by U.S. News & World Report magazine, conducted in conjunction with the Best Lawyers survey of law firms. The rankings are expected to be published in October.

    The magazine has long ranked law schools, which has rankled many deans nationwide. The ABA Journal reported on the controversy in April 2008.

    The wording of the resolution was expanded in the hours before the House met to include law school rankings, and to strike any direct references to US News.

    On the House floor, most of the resolution—asking lawyers to consider whether such rankings promote diversity, pro bono activities and other “core values” of the profession—was stripped way by a vote of 203 to 183.

    The full resolution as passed reads: “RESOLVED: That the American Bar Association examine any efforts to publish national, state, territorial, and local rankings of law firms and law schools.”

    The House narrowly defeated, by a vote of 209 to 190, a motion to indefinitely postpone the measure so that the ABA’s Ethics 20/20 Commission could study lawyer rankings.

    In a report accompanying the resolution, the measure’s sponsor—the New York State Bar Association—said “we know, based upon the experience of the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of law schools, that there will be significant issues regarding the validity of the rankings.”

    A federal Government Accounting Office study (PDF) found that US News’ widely-read rankings of law schools are a factor in driving up the cost of legal education, with schools spending more in pursuit of higher rankings, the ABA report said.

    The ABA should study whether “law firms will be induced to change their methods of operations and drive up the cost of legal services to the public in the same way that the cost of legal education has been distorted,” the report said.

    A survey of clients will be one component of the rankings methodology. Lawyer disclosure of their clients’ names may constitute an ethics violation in some circumstances, the report claimed.

    ABA President Carolyn Lamm urged the House to table the measure, saying it may violate existing law, such as the First Amendment and laws against restraint of trade. “If we pass something that is legally incorrect, we will all be exposed. This is a matter for the press, and I’m sure they won’t let it lie if the ABA takes a legally incorrect position,” she said.

    “Just because you’re irritated about what some new ratings agency should do, that doesn’t mean we should dash off and take a position,” she added.

    But the position of A. Vincent Buzard, a past president of the New York State Bar Association, carried the day. If the ethics commission plans to review rankings, “what’s the harm in passing the resolution? Let’s just get it done.”

    Lamm said in an interview after the resolution passed that she would ask the ABA’s Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar to examine law school rankings, and the Ethics 20/20 Commission to review law firm rankings.

    Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News & World Report, wrote on his blog Morse Code that “both U.S. News and Best Lawyers think that it’s important for the public to have as much information as possible on the relative merits of law schools and law firms.” With the ever-rising cost of a J.D. and tough market for new grads, prospective law students need all of the information they can get, Morse wrote.

    Morse said in a 2008 ABA Journal article that, regarding the annual U.S. News law schools feature, he welcomes contact and input from deans. “I want to work with them to improve the rankings.”


  2. I want to know why my alma mater, John Marshall Law School in Chicago, did not receive higher grades this ranking? There must be a mistake.

  3. The US News rankings are about the only thing keeping the magazine afloat and they’ve devolved into a contest where everyone gets prizes (endless new categories) and the year-to-yaer rankings are watched with great anticipation, even though the glacial character of academia means that most changes represent (at best) error variance ina rather flawed rating system. We’d all be better off if US News simply just died a normal death and took this nonsense with them.

  4. what a joke. if the rankings are bunk, and you’re not going to change them, what good are your rankings?

  5. Whew, glad that controversy is resolved. It’s almost Shakespearean in scope: either “Much Ado About Nothing” or “The Tempest (in a TeaPot).”

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