The Law School Admission Council has reached an agreement with the American Bar Association to provide oversight of the undergraduate grade-point averages and Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores that individual schools report for their incoming students.
As part of a pilot program this fall, schools will be required to provide the ABA with the names, grades and LSAT scores for each matriculating student. In the past, schools have only been required to tell the ABA the aggregate median and 25th and 75th percentiles for both those academic credentials, rather than individual scores.
Schools may elect to have the LSAC certify the accuracy of those numbers, meaning the organization will cross-reference the grades and scores it has on file. The LSAC will issue a report verifying the information.
The changes come on the heels of episodes in which admissions officials at Villanova University School of Law and the University of Illinois College of Law inflated the LSAT scores and grades they reported to the ABA, U.S. News & World Report and on their Web sites.
“Many schools have expressed an interest in such a program,” said John O’Brien, chair of the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and dean of the New England School of Law. “In an environment where the actions of a few schools have raised questions in the minds of some about the integrity of data reporting by law schools more generally, this program gives schools a straightforward and efficient method to have their admissions data verified to assure that they are accurately reporting admissions data to the ABA and the public.”
It’s not yet clear how many schools will opt for the LSAC certification process, said ABA Consultant on Legal Education Hulett “Bucky” Askew. Schools will be required to submit new student names and academic credentials by the end of October.
The ABA announced the program to law deans on June 15, and the limited response thus far has been positive, Askew said. “We presume a lot of schools will want to do it,” he said. “This is a way for the school to make sure they did the calculations right.”
LSAC leaders initially were skeptical about policing reported LSAT scores and undergraduate grades. In September, after the Illinois scandal became public, LSAC President Dan Bernstine said that policing the data was not the council’s proper function and was not something the organization — which is made up of member schools — was interested in doing. But Bernstine reversed course during the following month.
“This program offers a service to our member schools that we are pleased to be able to provide,” LSAC chairman Steven Willborn said. “Having a process that enhances the integrity of entering-student data is a positive step toward creating greater consumer confidence in the admission process, and it is a natural fit to do this in conjunction with the ABA.”
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