Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cooking the Data at Baylor Law School?

Here's a troubling story about Baylor Law School and the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings. "A researcher with the magazine says that officials with Baylor University School of Law have repeatedly submitted misleading answers to the magazine's questions involving LSAT scores and grade-point averages of first-year students. Baylor officials, meanwhile, insist they've done nothing wrong." The first person to notice discrepancies in Baylor's responses was Professor Tom W. Bell of Chapman University School of Law, who wrote about them in his blog Agoraphilia. Bell "noted on his blog...that Baylor performed remarkably better in the 2007...rankings than he expected, based on a model he created using data that schools report directly to the American Bar Association." Bell deduced that U.S. News ranked Baylor not "on the medican LSAT and GPA scores of the school's entire first year class, but rather solely [on] the first year law students it admitted in the fall." It turns out that Baylor allows relatively weaker students to enroll in the spring or summer instead of in the fall. Baylor states it has done nothing wrong, saying that the "online forms do not allow for proper clarification on the Internet for schools that operate on a calendar system like that of Baylor." Robert J. Morse, director of data research at U.S. News says that the magazine should not have accepted Baylor's numbers, and that schools with a schedule like Baylor's have been told how to submit their data correctly.

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