Legal Education

Organization that administers GRE offered to share exam results with Law School Admissions Council

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Though the organization that administers the LSAT has said it would stop certifying law schools average scores because schools might use another test for admissions, the organization administering that other test, the GRE, says it offered to help resolve difficulties in certifying scores.

The Law School Admission Council announced that it would not continue to certify LSAT scores: Its leadership said it was concerned matriculation results could be inaccurate if ABA-accredited schools are allowed to admit students based on alternate admissions tests. The LSAC notified law school deans about their intentions in an Aug. 2 letter (PDF).

But a few weeks earlier, the organization that designs and administers the GRE had offered LSAC a plan to help. David G. Payne, vice president and chief operating officer of Educational Testing Service, says that in July, his organization met with the LSAC and offered to develop an option where law school candidates could send their Graduate Record Examination scores to the LSAC so the scores would be included in its credential assembly services. ETS also offered to provide the LSAC with GRE score summaries sent to law schools. ETS already sends the LSAC scores from Test of English as a Foreign Language exams.

“If the LSAC is willing to include GRE scores in the [credential assembly services], then this may be an easy way for the LSAC to continue to certify the accuracy of standardized test scores reported to law schools,” Payne wrote in a letter (PDF) sent to the LSAC Aug. 8. He says that the LSAC has not responded to the offer.

Daniel Bernstine, LSAC president, doesn’t seem to have confidence in it. “ETS’ proposal does not address LSAC’s concerns about how all test scores will be reported by law schools and treated by the ABA and ultimately U.S. News. We are working with our member law schools to ascertain how best to meet their needs regarding admission credentials,” he told the ABA Journal in a statement. In the Aug. 2 letter, the LSAC noted that LSAT scores weigh heavily in law school rankings published by U.S. News and World Report.

The Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is reviewing a study Payne’s organization conducted, that found that GRE results, like LSAT scores, accurately predict first-year law students’ grades. It was commissioned by the University of Arizona School of Law, which in February was the first law school to open admissions to GRE test-takers.

The ABA asked the LSAC for help in 2011 in response to concerns about the accuracy of admissions data reported by law schools. One year later, the ABA censured and fined the University of Illinois College of Law $250,000 for intentionally publishing false LSAT and GPA admissions scores.

Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of accreditation and legal education, told the ABA Journal last week that he hopes that certification process will be continued.

“We look forward … to the LSAC continuing to explore ways that the certification process might be continued, at least for the present and while alternative approaches to credential data are considered,” he said.

Updated Aug. 10 to correct Payne’s title.

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