Thursday, June 22, 2006

USN&WR and Baylor on that School's Data

I earlier described an apparent difference between the median LSAT and GPA that U.S. News and World Report intended to assign to Baylor University School of Law in ranking that and other law schools, and the median LSAT and GPA that USN&WR did assign to Baylor. As I subsequently documented, the questionnaire that USN&WR sent to law schools in the fall of 2005 evidently asked them to report the median LSAT and GPA of their entire first-year class. Based on results from my model of the rankings, I surmised that USN&WR had somehow instead ranked Baylor based on the (rather higher) median LSAT and GPA of only those Baylor students who matriculated in the fall of 2005. In pursuit of more than mere guesses, I made inquiries to USN&WR and Baylor. I here offer their responses, to-date.

According to Robert J. Morse, director of data research for U.S. News, "U.S. News accepted Baylor's LSAT and GPA, despite their indicating that the data was only for the fall entering class." As I'd suspected, USN&WR evidently did use the median LSAT and GPA of students Baylor matriculated in the fall of 2005, only, even though it intended to rank Baylor based on all the median LSAT and GPA of all students the school matriculated in 2005. How USN&WR ended up using the wrong numbers remains a bit unclear; Morse didn't say. He did say, however, "We have tightened up our data collection procedures so it doesn't happen again."

The inquiry I sent to Baylor received a prompt and polite response from its Associate Dean, Leah Jackson. Although she promised I'd receive a complete response, together with supporting documentation, by the end of this week, she briefly noted, "[W]e have never misrepresented our LSAT and GPA data. If anything, we over-report our data to try to avoid any misrepresentation." She added that, "[W]e have been completely and thoroughly honest in reporting our information to U.S. News." I hope to offer more about Baylor's side of the story, soon.

Earlier posts about the 2007 USN&WR law school rankings:

No comments: