Following the abuse of a couple law schools reporting their incoming classes’ LSAT scores, the Law School Admission Council has joined the American Bar Association in creating a pilot program that will require schools not to provide an aggregate median of the overall body of students, as they had been, but to provide the LSAT scores, names, birth dates, and grades of each, which they will check for verity.
This change follows the misreporting of such GPAs and LSAT scores by Villanova University of Law, which has since been censured for its abuse, and the Illinois College of Law, which hasn’t, who both inflated scores when reporting them to the ABA, U.S. News & World Report and on their websites.
“Many schools have expressed an interest in such a program,” said the chair of ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission, John O’Brien. “In an environment where the actions of a few schools have raised questions in the minds of some about the integrity of data reporting by law schools more generally, this program gives schools a straightforward and efficient method to have their admissions data verified to assure that they are accurately reporting admissions data to the ABA and the public.”
It would be more work, anyway. The schools choosing to participate will have to make specific data about each student available to the LSAC for verification, and such sanctions might be put in place such as monetary fines or loss of accreditation.
Even LSAC wasn’t interested in this sort of business, to begin with. In September, their President, Dan Bernstine, said that policing the data wasn’t his council’s proper function — but by the end of the month he changed his decision.
“This is a way for the school to make sure they did the calculations right” said ABA Consultant on Legal Education Hulett “Bucky” Askew. But despite the cheery note, it isn’t yet clear how many schools will actually be on board with it.
“This program offers a service to our member schools that we are pleased to be able to provide,” said LSAC chairman Steven Willborn. “Having a process that enhances the integrity of entering-student data is a positive step toward creating greater consumer confidence in the admission process, and it is a natural fit to do this in conjunction with the ABA.”
Increasing consumer confidence is more important now than ever before, so it seems that if there ever was a time this program would pick off, now would be it.