Monday, September 26, 2005

U.S. News to Resume Using Medians, Instead of Mid-Points, on LSAT and GPA Data

In the rankings published last Spring, U.S. News used the mid-point of the 75th/25th LSAT and GPA for each school, rather than the median that the school reported.  This had the virtue of being public and thus reliable information, since the ABA also collects that data, but not the medians.  However, the mid-point approach produced an outcry from schools concerned about the incentive it would creative to cut back on alternative admissions procedures, since use of the mid-point gave the 25th percentile scores a new significance.

U.S. News has now announced that it will go back to using the medians, but the ABA will also begin collecting and publishing the median data as well.  So, on the theory that schools that will lie to U.S. News won't lie to the ABA, the median data that goes into the U.S. News ranking is likely to be reliable.  And, at the same time, the pressure on alternative admissions practices (practices that might depress the 25th percentile figures, which would matter for mid-point calculations) will be relieved.

To give an example of what this will mean, take Texas.  Last year, we had a 25th/75th LSAT spread of 162-167 and a median of 165.  On the mid-point method, we were credited with a 164.5.  This year, we have a 25th/75th LSAT spread of 161-168, but a median of 166--though our mid-point LSAT would remain the same as last year.

(Thanks to Jeff Stake [Law, Indiana-Bloomington] for calilng this to my attention.  His Dean, Lauren Robel, also gets much credit for helping lead the effort to get US News to use the actual medians.)

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