Please allow me, as a personal aside, to note that I never planned for my meandering series of posts about the USN&WR law school rankings to crash into this can of worms. I don't want to play the part of an investigative reporter, a judge, or jury. I just want to figure out how the rankings work (or don't), and how we might improve them. Like the USN&WR rankings or not, they profoundly affect a lot of people. Even as I type these words, students across the country are relying on the rankings to decide where to spend tens of thousands of dollars and the next three years of their lives. Those students deserve accurate information. Hence my interest in figuring out how, in the case of Baylor and other law schools, USN&WR measures median LSAT and GPA.
So, how does USN&WR measure a law school's median LSAT and GPA? It sends each law school a questionnaire including the following:
Matriculants' GPA and LSAT Scores — Law School
2005 ABA Questionnaire Reference: Part 2, Section 1, Question 1D.
Please report the 75th and 25th percentiles for both GPA and LSAT scores for full and part-time students matriculating during the period 10/1/2004 through 9/30/2005. Report ALL registrants, including those who withdrew prior to October 1, 2005.
In reporting median undergraduate grade point averages and LSAT scores, please include ALL full-time students matriculating during the period 10/1/2004 through 9/30/2005. Report all registrants, including those who withdrew prior to Oct. 1, 2005. Please include in the LSAT and grade-point average medians all matriculating African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic, and foreign students, as well as legacies and students matriculating as the result of any special programs.
Note first that USN&WR's questionnaire expressly references the ABA's. With regard to LSATs and GPAs as with regard to many other items of information, USN&WR asks law schools to tell it the same thing they told the ABA. Note next how carefully USN&WR's questionnaire defines the time span under consideration: all students matriculating from 10/1/2004 through 9/30/2005. USN&WR quite evidently does not want a school to report only the LSATs and GPAs of students matriculating in the fall.
I imagine my readers can decipher texts at least as well as I can, so I leave each of you to figure out whether any law school could in good faith reply to USN&WR's 2005 questionnaire by submitting only the median LSATs and GPAs of students the school matriculated in the fall of 2005. Don't prejudge Baylor, though. We don't yet know exactly what that school reported to USN&WR, much less why it did so. As I said, I think we will soon get Baylor's own account—and, I hope, some clarity about how the USN&WR rankings actually do, or ideally should, work.
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