The above chart shows both the scores that USN&WR assigns to law schools in tiers one and two, and the scores that my model generated for all law schools ranked by USN&WR. I offered a comparison of the data for tiers one and two earlier, as part of my description of the model's accuracy. I now add the scores my model generates for tiers three and four.
Note the s-shape of the curve describing the full range of scores. It shows relatively sharp cut-offs at both extremes. The distinction of the most highly ranked institutions, here shown at the far left of the curve, has long formed a staple of law school commentary, which routinely focuses on the top fifteen or so law schools. The above chart reveals that a similar (if dubious) distinction marks the bottom fifteen or so schools ranked by USN&WR.
Some readers will doubtless want to know what score my model generated for each particular school in tiers three and four. I have thus far resisted the urge to publish that information, however. Why? I offer three reasons.
First, I worry that some people would, in the absence of USN&WR's scores, rely on the model's scores to rank schools in tiers three and four. I am the first to admit, however, that my model does not perfectly mirror the USN&WR rankings. Second, even if the model perfectly duplicated USN&WR's results, I'd hesitate to release the scores of schools in tiers three and four for fear that I might promote the sort of obsession that already surrounds the scores of schools in tiers one and two. Third, I pity the schools struggling at the bottom of the USN&WR rankings. Those at the bottom of the fourth tier, in particular, already have problems enough. Perhaps I'd feel they deserve their fates, and that honesty demanded full disclosure of their faults, if I thought the USN&WR rankings did a very good job of describing law school quality. But I don't think they do.
Lest you suspect me of ulterior motives, allow me to observe that disclosing the scores of schools in third and fourth tier would probably help my own employer, Chapman University School of Law. Revealing those scores would show just how widely differentiated scores in the fourth tier are, and how Chapman is just about ready to break into tier three. You can read more about our travails, and our prospects, in this earlier post.
Now, though, comes your chance to catch me in hypocrisy. Here's the problem: Although I have thus far hesitated to release the model's scores for schools in the third and fourth tiers, I plan to advocate reforms that would let anybody generate them pretty easily. Consistent? Perhaps not. I think I can defend my approach, but because that defense relies in part on the systemic effects of the reforms I'll suggest, I'll speak about it later.
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
- The University of Florida's Score in the USN&WR Rankings
- Baylor Explains the Data it Reported for the USN&WR Rankings
- More Edits to Model of USN&WR's Law School Rankings
- Insider Higher Ed Reports on USN&WR's Ranking of Baylor
- Florida Explains the Data it Reported for the USN&WR Rankings