Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The USNews.com roller coaster

Blog Emperor Caron unwisely hypes his school's favorable overall ranking in the USNews.com charade.  This is unwise because it legitimates the nonsense number (i.e., the overall rank), which will likely come back to bite Pepperdine in another year (much as they got bitten rather unfairly last year).   With resources, any school can move up in the rankings by shrinking their student body (especially the 1L class) and holding everything else constant.   As I've noted before, almost every change, for better or worse, in the USNews.com overall ranking has nothing to do with reality:  it reflects moves to game the rankings either by the school doing better, or by one's immediate competitors for those schools that do worse.  

The Blog Emperor also usefully produces the "peer [academic] reputation" scores for the most recent law school rankings.   These scores typically track the overall USNews.com ranking in recent years, with small deviations.  This year's amusing small deviation is for Yale, which comes in at 4.8, behind Harvard and Stanford at 4.9.  Yale is still #1 in the overall ranking, while Harvard is #3, behind Stanford at #2--the way it's been for a number of years now. This result is entirely a function of one-and-only one factor (which USNews.com doesn't print):  spending per capita.  Harvard is rich but large, with economies of scale for which it is penalized in the ranking formula; Yale and Stanford are rich, but very small. Hence the results.




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