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US News Won’t Recalibrate Law School Rankings Despite Word of More U of Illinois Data Errors

Posted Sep 29, 2011 6:12 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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News of additional errors in some Law School Admission Test and grade point average data published in recent years by the University of Illinois isn't going to make any difference in U.S. News & World Report's annual law school rankings for those years.

For one thing, it appears that the erroneous information may have been statistically insignificant, as far as the rankings are concerned, Robert Morse, the magazine's director of data research, tells the ABA Journal. Plus, it's necessary to have finality at this point, he says.

Nonetheless, it's obviously disturbing that two institutions this year have reported errors in the numbers they self-disclose, even though they represent only about one percent of the nation's law schools. And, Morse says, although he believes these are isolated incidents, watching them unfold, from the sidelines, is likely to serve as a cautionary example to other law school administrators elsewhere.

“I think these things are super embarrassing for the school, to have to make these admissions and hire large law firms and accounting firms and go through these public disclosures," he says. "So hopefully, even though this is the second one in calendar 2011, ...hopefully these will act as a deterrent."

At this point, Morse sees no need for U.S. News to change its procedures. But, he says, if any change is needed, the ABA is in the better position to audit, spot-check or otherwise review the accuracy of the information provided by the law schools it accredits.

The question for the ABA, he suggests, is "Do they feel these [data reporting errors] are serious enough … that they need to take more steps than they’re taking now to ensure data integrity?”

A representative of the ABA's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is traveling and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "ABA Raps Villanova re Inaccurate Admission Data, Says Law School Must Post Censure Online"

ABAJournal.com: "U of Illinois Corrects LSAT and GPA Stats for Additional Law Classes"

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