U.S. News & World Report has indefinitely delayed the release of its law and medical school rankings for a second time, citing a high volume of inquiries from schools. The publication said it will publish the new rankings “when this work has been completed” but did not provide a new publication date. The law and medical school rankings were initially scheduled to be released on April 18 but were postponed to April 25 due to many questions from schools.
According to U.S. News & World Report, it received requests from schools to update data submitted after the collection period. The publication added that the rest of the graduate school rankings, which include business, engineering, and nursing programs, will come out on April 25.
This year marks the first time U.S. News has delayed the law school rankings from the planned release, said law school consultant Mike Spivey. The indefinite delay has not gone over well, he said. “The ire from a number of law school deans is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Spivey said.
The unprecedented delays come amid a large-scale rankings boycott that began among elite law schools in November and spread to some medical schools. Nearly a third of U.S. law schools this year declined to provide U.S. News with any internal data for its rankings, including 12 of the top 14 schools, which said the publication’s methodology hurt student diversity and affordability.
In response to the boycott, U.S. News overhauled the law school rankings methodology to rely largely on ABA data, place more weight on bar passage and employment, and reduce the emphasis on Law School Admission Test scores. But after receiving a preview version of the rankings on April 11, some law schools raised concerns about potential errors in the rankings data and asked for further review.
“Although we no longer participate in the U.S. News rankings, we expect the magazine to use accurate, publicly available numbers if it intends to continue to make representations about our law school,” wrote Harvard Law assistant dean Marva de Marothy in a Wednesday letter to U.S. News that it shared with Reuters.
The boycott and delays reflect growing discontent among law schools with the rankings system, which they say puts too much emphasis on factors that do not reflect the quality of legal education. Critics argue that the rankings encourage law schools to focus on easily quantifiable factors, such as LSAT scores and job placement rates, at the expense of other factors, such as diversity and affordability.
While the rankings remain influential in the legal education market, some law schools have taken steps to distance themselves from the rankings. In recent years, a number of schools have stopped participating in the rankings altogether or have made efforts to downplay their importance.
The boycott has also sparked a broader debate about the role of rankings in higher education. Some educators argue that rankings are a flawed and superficial way of measuring quality, while others argue that they provide valuable information for students and can encourage schools to improve.
Despite the criticisms, the rankings continue to attract significant attention from law schools, students, and the media. This year’s delay and boycott are likely to further fuel the debate about the role and impact of rankings in legal education.