People who care about the U.S. News law school rankings are starting to worry about how U.S. News handles its “employed on graduation” statistic. On Friday, the issue boiled over at Wake Forest School of Law.
Today, Paul Caron of TaxProf Blog asks if some schools actually hurt their rankings, simply by being honest:
Several readers noted the curious fact that 64 law schools did not supply U.S. News with the percentage of its Class of 2007 that was employed at graduation; this component counts 4% in the methodology used in the 2010 Law School Rankings….
A more interesting question is why 24 law schools reported employed at graduation numbers more than 30% lower than their employed at nine months number:
TaxProf provides more details after the jump.
It seems like the U.S. News methodology simply must be updated for next year. The rankings can’t punish schools that accurately report their employment numbers:
Many of these schools undoubtedly adversely affected their overall ranking by reporting their employed at graduation data. As Ted Seto explains in his article, because U.S. News uses round numbers in determining a school’s overall score, the 4% weighting of the employed at graduation data easily could impact a school’s overall ranking — i.e. a school whose overall score ended in .49 would move up to the next grouping with an increase in its overall score of merely .01. Ted also explains that an increase of 22 percentage points in the employed at graduation figure would have improved a school’s overall score by one full point (in the 2007 rankings) — which Arkansas-Little Rock could have achieved by declining to disclose its 44.2% figure and instead allowing U.S. News to assign it a 68.0% figure.
But it would also help if U.S. News provided some additional guidance on what, precisely, is going to count as “employed” for next year. Does being put on a year long mandatory deferral count as employed upon graduation? Does working for free at a public interest organization count as employed upon graduation?
This year’s big change was to the rankings methodology was to include part-time programs. Maybe next year, U.S. News will pay more attention to the reason most people go to law school in the first place: getting a job.
Did 24 Law Schools Commit Rankings Malpractice?
Earlier: Wake Forest Law Student: The Latest Meltdown
U.S. News 2010 Law School Rankings