Monday, July 16, 2007

USN&WR to Change Employment Measure

Robert Morse, U.S. News and World Report's director of data research, blogs: "In the upcoming edition of America's Best Graduate Schools, U.S. News will change the way it computes the percentage of law school graduates employed at graduation (and nine months after) as result of changes made by the ABA in its questionnaire." The changes aim to stop schools from gaming the "Emp9" measure, a practice I described earlier.

Specifically, the ABA and USN&WR will now force law schools to classify graduates as either employed, going to graduate school, or unemployed. No longer will schools face the temptation to hide bodies in the "graduates who are unemployed and not seeking work" category—a trick that removes students from the denominator of the Emp9 formula and thereby increases the Emp9 score.

Could schools still game the Emp9 measure? I have little doubt that they will try. But they will have to think up new, and more subtle, tricks.

[Update: Paul Caron and Brian Leiter offer additional observations.]

[Crossposted to Agoraphilia.]

Earlier posts about Emp9 measure:

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone want to recompute the 2008 rankings using this "more accurate" methodology based on the figures conveniently made available by the ABA in excel format? I'm sure the results would be most interesting...

For starters, sorting the employment sheet by the percentage actually employed yields some shocking information on just how skewed the percentages appearing in US News were...

As a passive on-looker , I must say that the depth of the distortion perpetrated by law school administrators (at the top schools on down) is appauling and unethical quite frankly. It is telling that they must be forced to be honest and transparent with their future consumers. They have quite clearly shown they are unwilling to do so on their own...great example for the future lawyers of this nation, deans!

7/16/2007 9:04 PM  
Blogger Tom W. Bell said...

Anon: I'm thinking about trying that sort of recalculation. It could prove interesting. Alas, though, it would take a fair amount of work, too. And for what? To drive home the point that law schools will work over the ranking rules until they find loopholes? That's hardly a blockbuster.

7/18/2007 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree that basing schools ranking on a factor like employment rate is effective or intelligent. First off, the idea of a ranking system is a bad idea because it creates a system that is based solely on students ability to pass tests. It falls short of providing any basis for how a lawyer will fair in their specific interest, how well an oral advocate they are, or how well they can draft a brief. It falls short of identifying the essence and the spirit of what school is all about. There was no such thing as law school for much of the 1800's and some of the best court opinions were written by justices who weren't forced to take a test like the LSAT. Secondly, when you attempt to shove another useless stat like employment, you again miss the point. There are poorly formed law schools, who barely have a 2 writing class requisite, and squeeze out a bar pass rate below the national average; yet if they are in an area where they are the only game in town, you will see a high employment rate. The system is flawed and trying to shove more information into the puzzle confuses things, it doesn't make them better.

1/18/2008 12:08 AM  
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