Thursday, January 14, 2010
CHE covers the issues here, and apart from the damning and somewhat unfair article title ("Law Schools Resist Proposal to Assess Them Based on What Students Learn"), the funniest bit is this one:
Some law deans question whether the kinds of skills that make a good lawyer can be measured through traditional assessment techniques.
"It is worth pausing to ask how the proponents of outcome measures can be so very confident that the actual performance of tasks deemed essential for the practice of law can be identified, measured, and evaluated," said Robert C. Post, dean of Yale Law School.
This leads a commenter to remark: "Is the good Dean serious? If he and the Yale School of Law do not have the ability to 'identify, measure and evaluate' the 'tasks deemed essential for the practice of law,' then how can they be sure that they know how to teach these unidentified, unmeasured and unevaluated tasks? Perhaps it is time for them to pack it in." An amusing rejoinder, but of course the real issues are measuring and evaluating whether or not the graduates have acquired the skills. Everyone, including at Yale, can identify most of the requisite skills and knowledge, it's just they aren't taught in New Haven! (To quote a very eminent federal judge recommending his clerk for an academic position: 'He was a very good law clerk despite having gone to Yale.'")