The reasons for revisiting Florida's score mirror those that applied to Baylor. As did Baylor, Florida did notably better in the USN&WR rankings than it did in my model—about 4% better. As with regard to Baylor, it looks as if USN&WR attributed to Florida higher median LSAT and GPA scores than the American Bar association attributed to it. Allow me to explain.
USN&WR attributed higher 25th and 75th percentile LSAT and GPA scores to Florida than the American Bar Assocation did in its statistical take-offs or in the Official Guide it jointly publishes with the Law School Admission Council. Here's a comparison:
That alone says nothing about how USN&WR ranked Florida, of course. USN&WR ranks schools based on their median LSATs and GPAs; not on their 25th and 75th %-tiles. And, as I noted in my analysis of Baylor's scores, USN&WR (inexplicably) does not report the median LSATs and GPAs that it uses. As with regard to Baylor, however, we can pretty well figure out what median LSAT and GPA USN&WR attributed to Florida. How? By referring to Florida's Admissions webpage, which reports the 25th, median, and 75th percentile LSATs and GPAs of its "Fall 2005 Enrolled Class." Those 25th and 75th percentiles line up precisely with those reported by USN&WR. It seems very likely, then, that USN&WR used the corresponding median LSAT and GPA numbers. Notably, those medians differ from the median LSAT and GPA that the ABA attributes to Florida's 2005 full-time first-year law students. Here's a comparison:
|Florida Admission's Webpage||161||3.66|
Support for that explanation comes from plugging into my model of the USN&WR rankings the median LSAT and GPA that Florida attributed to its fall 2005 class. That brings the model's score for Florida to within about 1% of USN&WR's score—a difference small enough to ignore.
Supposing I'm right about the numbers, why did USN&WR attribute a materially higher median LSAT and GPA to Florida than the ABA did? Here, again, we can borrow the same analysis that applied to Baylor. Both Baylor and Florida matriculated students not just in the fall of 2005, but also earlier in the year. Florida's website says that it is "phasing out Spring admissions" in 2006. It thus evidently did admit students in the spring of 2005. I surmise that, as with regard to Baylor, USN&WR ranked Florida based not on the median LSAT and GPA of Florida's entire full-time fall 2005 first-year class, but rather based only on the full-time first-year students that Florida admitted that fall.
So what? It follows that, as with regard to the similar error concerning Baylor's numbers, USN&WR meant to rank Florida on numbers other than those it actually used. By my calculations, in other words, USN&WR meant to give Florida an overall score of about 52 (rather than 54) and a rank of 43 (rather than 41).
Those don't constitute huge differences, of course, so nobody need pitch a fit. As with regard to Baylor, though, the treatment of Florida's numbers may teach us something about how USN&WR's ranking do and, more importantly, don't work. It remains only to confirm that USN&WR used the wrong numbers for Florida and, supposing it did, to figure out why. I've written to both USN&WR and Florida seeking answers.
As an aside, I note that Florida has done something very interesting in phasing out its spring admissions option. The website quoted above continues: "As a result, 100 of Fall 2005 applicants will be selected to enroll in January, 2006, to be known as the Fall 2005 Accelerated group. Thanks to special scheduling, this group will be classified as second-year students by the beginning of Fall 2006 classes." I gather, then, that the Florida need never report to the ABA or USN&WR the LSATs and GPAs of the students admitted in January 2006. Those students would have come in too late for Florida to report in the fall 2005 and will no longer qualify as first-year students by the fall of 2006.
Earlier posts about the 2007 USN&WR law school rankings:
- Change to U.S. News Law School Rankings Methodology
- "Financial Aid" Revised in U.S. News Methodology
- How USN&WR Counts Faculty for Rankings
- Whence Come the LSATs and GPAs Used in the Rankings?
- Gains and Losses Due to USN&WR's Use of Reported Median LSATs and GPAs
- How to Model USN&WR's Law School Rankings
- Why to Model USN&WR's Law School Rankings
- The ABA and USN&WR's Law School Rankings
- Accuracy of the Model of USN&WR's Law School Rankings
- Z-Scores in Model of USN&WR's Law School Rankings
- Further Tinkering with Model of USN&WR Law School Rankings
- Baylor's Score in the USN&WR Law School Rankings
- What USN&WR Asks About Law Schools' LSATs and GPAs
- USN&WR and Baylor on that School's Data