Should LSATs for Evening Students Count in Rankings?
Posted Jul 8, 2008 11:03 AM CDT
By Molly McDonough
Former George Washington University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg is among those arguing that U.S. News & World Report should leave well enough alone with its rankings and keep night programs out of the equation.
In an opinion piece published this week by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Trachtenberg takes issue with a proposal by Robert Morse, the U.S. News & World Report editor who manages the annual rankings list.
Morse, who was featured in the ABA Journal's April cover story "The Rankings Czar," suggests that entrance exam data for all students, full and part-time, be counted in the rankings. Doing so would counter some "gaming" of the system that is being alleged. Morse, in his recent campaign to improve his publication's controversial rankings, has heard allegations that some schools move students with lower LSAT scores into part-time programs in order to improve their rankings.
"One way to prevent gaming of the system is to count [grade and test data of] all students," Morse recently told the National Law Journal.
But, Trachtenberg writes, "this is a bad idea."
Trachtenberg, who just published the book Big Man on Campus: A University President Speaks Out On Higher Education, says the evening program is "a ladder that has allowed access by blue-collar and other students to study law for generations."
Trachtenberg fears that this avenue of entry for nontraditional students, who for many reasons have lower test scores, will close if law schools face being penalized for admitting these students into night and part-time programs.
"If the old family recipe is changed, some law schools neurotic about their rankings might be tempted to stop offering evening law degrees," Trachtenberg writes. "This would be an unfortunate consequence of an unnecessary course of action. I urge all to leave things as they are. It is an imperfect world. We need to live with it."
In the alternative, Trachtenberg supports a compromise: U.S. News & World Report could compare apples to apples, with rankings for full-time programs and rankings for part-time programs.