So if we look at schools that have students with not-great entering credentials, but high bar passage rates in recent years -- that's a good signal that the quality of the JD program is relatively strong.
Two possible objections (and others welcome) on this as a metric: first, this encourages and rewards "teaching to the bar." My response is: well, the school that has pulled off one of the biggest bar-passage miracles of recent times, New York.Law School, raised bar passage rates -- 57% to 90% -- primarily by teaching struggling students analytic skills. See Dean Matasar's description of how they did it here (p. 3 of pdf). Intensive training in analytic skills for struggling students? Sounds good to me.
Second objection is: bar passage is already included in the U.S. News formula -- why double count it? The response is: bar passage counts for next to nothing (2%) in the US news formula, and it's considered on an absolute, not relative, basis. So Yale gets essentially the same credit for achieving a 90% bar passage rate in New York as New York Law School does, working with students with far lower entering credentials.
Below is the list we have so far, and thanks to Bill Henderson for pointing us in the direction of some of these schools. I'm quite sure we're missing some, and we're working on finalizing the list for that Voters' Guide out next week -- so please let us know other schools that might be considered to be in this category.
Schools that Achieve High Bar Passage Rates Relative to Entering Credentials:
New York Law School
North Carolina Central
University of Memphis
University of San Francisco
Labels: Race to the Top