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High Dropout Rates May Result in Loss of Accreditation
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Summary: Schools may lose their accreditation if they cannot reasonably explain why the attrition rates of their first-year students are above 20 percent.

When a law school loses 20 percent or more of their first-year law students, they may now lose their accreditation as well. The American Bar Association’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar are discussing the new punishment for schools with attrition rates of one-fifth or more of their first-year class.

  
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The proposal would require schools to prove that they are meeting existing admissions standards. If a school starts enrolling students that do “not appear capable of satisfactorily completing its program of legal education and being admitted to the bar” then they could face consequences. Last year there were 15 law schools that reached the 20 percent maximum. The average is around 7 percent.

The ABA has always considered attrition rates when giving schools accreditation status, but has never had a designated percentage to claim. The new proposal places more responsibility on schools for who they admit. “The proposal says to a school that if you admit students who have more challenging credentials, and are riskier, you have to have enough success to show that you have a program that can adequately address those needs.”

Law school enrollment numbers have taken a hit for the past several years, leading to many schools lowering their admission standards in order to keep their numbers up. This has drawn skepticism from critics that schools are enrolling students that never have a chance to graduate or pass the bar exam.

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Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law had a first-year attrition rate of 48 percent last year. Widener University Commonwealth Law School followed with 36 percent with Thomas Jefferson School of Law closely behind at 34 percent.

Read Lawsuit against Thomas Jefferson Law Moves Forward to learn about the school’s other problems.



The proposal would not include students that transfer to other schools after the first year and will solely focus on academic and “other” attrition. Other attrition reasons include dropping out due to health issues or financial reasons.

A school that reports an attrition rate above 20 percent will not immediately lose their accreditation. They will first be given the chance to explain why their rate is so high and then prove that they are following admissions standards. This gives schools the chance to show that a number of students dropped out for other reasons than just bad grades.

Source: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/home/id=1202752492033?slreturn=20160218165844

Photo: tippingthescales.com



 

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