The University of Illinois announced Wednesday that its law school reported inaccurate data to the American Bar Association on the academic credentials of its incoming students for the past three years, in addition to publishing inflated figures on its Web site this fall.
That makes Illinois the second law school this year to be caught inflating the LSAT scores and GPAs that are reported annually to the ABA and U.S. News & World Report. Villanova University School of Law admitted to similar problems in February and received a public censure from the ABA.
“Reporting erroneous data is absolutely unacceptable,” said University of Illinois President Michael Hogan. “The university, the campus and the college of law place the highest priority on accuracy and integrity, and we will take measures to ensure that this never happens again.”
Paul Pless, the assistant dean for admissions and financial aid at Illinois’s law school, has been on administrative leave since the university’s ethics office launched an investigation in late August after receiving information that there were problems with the data.
University investigators looked at LSAT scores and GPA data provided by the Law School Admission Council — which administers the exams and maintains a central database of application information — for the past 10 years.
They found discrepancies between the actual statistics and the numbers reported to the ABA in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The erroneous information that was initially published for the law school’s current incoming class had not yet been reported to the ABA.
The discrepancies began small, but grew over time, according to the investigation.
In 2008, the school reported a median LSAT of 166 when the actual figure was 165. It accurately reported a median GPA of 3.6.
In 2009, the law school again reported a median LSAT of 166 — one point higher than the actual median. However, it reported a median GPA of 3.8, which was higher than the actual median of 3.7.
In 2009, the school accurately reported a median LSAT of 167, but upped the reported median GPA to 3.8 when it should have been 3.6.
The data reported for this year’s incoming class was by far the most inaccurate. The actual median LSAT plummeted to 163, but the school published a median of 168. Similarly, the school published a median GPA of 3.81 when the actual median was 3.7.
The university plans to release a final report once the ongoing investigation is complete. It has already decided to hire an independent monitor of the data for the future.
Karen Sloan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.