Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tom Bell: Some Recommended Reforms for US News

Here; an excerpt:

Earlier this summer, I began a series of posts about the U.S. News & World Report's law school rankings. (Please see below for links to each post in the series.) My research uncovered many interesting and troubling things about the rankings. I discovered errors in the data that USN&WR used for the most recent rankings and, consequently, errors in the way that it ranked several law schools. More distressingly, I discovered that almost no safeguards exist to correct or prevent such errors. I think it fair to say that, but for my peculiar obsession with the USN&WR rankings, nobody would have noticed the errors I've documented. That won't do. We cannot rely on one nutty professor to keep the rankings honest. I thus here wrap up my series about the most recent USN&WR law school rankings by describing several reforms designed to make law school rankings more accurate and open. Although I suggest all of them, implementing any one of these reforms would make errors in the rankings less likely, and surviving errors more likely to get corrected.

Professor Bell has several sound suggestions.  They do not, of course, address the more general worry, namely, that the US News ranking methodology, with its stew of a dozen different factors, simply makes no sense, and can be neither rationally defended nor even explained.  But Professor Bell's core recommendations are certainly good ones; perhaps Bob Morse at US News will take note.

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