As we previously mentioned, LSAC and the Department of Justice have entered into a consent decree over LSAC’s alleged discrimination against disabled people. LSAC agreed to pay $7.73 million to settle the claims against it, and to make policy changes. Most notably, LSAC will no longer denote when a person has received extra time on the LSAT.
That is great news for disabled people who want to be treated with fundamental fairness when taking this important test and applying for law school. It’s also great news for anybody who can fake their way through an ADHD exam and wants a little more time than everybody else…
Not to sound like Doctor House, but people lie. People lie all the time, and they lie more when it’s really important. If you are applying to law school, the LSAT is the most important factor in your admissions chances. Getting even five more points on the test can literally mean the difference between going to a top law school for free or going to a middling law school for full price. As I’ve explained before, getting five more points on the LSAT can give you a better life.
The LSAT is a glorified reading comprehension test, so having more time can really help. Obviously, if you are disabled, that extra time can help level the playing field. If you are dyslexic, or blind, or you have no freaking arms, LSAC should be giving you extra time, shouldn’t make it prohibitively difficult for you to apply for extra time, and shouldn’t encourage law schools to discriminate against you because of your disability. The American Bar Association welcomes this change.
In other news, I like babies and puppies.
But again, people lie. And when extra time is available with no downside, you’ll have all sorts of unscrupulous people trying to pretend they have a “disability” in order to get that time. Already, at law schools, there is rampant use of Adderall. For the purposes of this post I’m going to pretend that ADHD is a real thing, but it’s worth noting that all the people who claim they suffer from it is a group larger than the people who actually suffer from it.
If there is an edge to be had, hyper-competitive law students are exactly the kind of people to try to take it. The notation that a person received extra time on a test is a minimum check on people who might take advantage of the system. LSAC, which admits no fault in this settlement, notes that the Department of Justice has been aware of this notation system since 1986.
Now, we should all be a little more sensitive to discrimination against disabled people than we were in 1986. And the answer to dealing with people who abuse the system isn’t to punish those who are using it correctly. Discriminating against disabled people because some unknown subset of people are liars is wrong, Mmmkay.
But LSAC has to do something to discourage abuse of extra time.
The answer, I think, is to require LSAC to do more work in determining who is actually disabled, but doing that in such a way that it doesn’t put unreasonable hurdles on the students. I’m not sure how they do that; those goals are somewhat in conflict.
But, hey, that’s why the testing administrators get paid the big bucks. This settlement can’t be the end of this discussion; we have to keep thinking about how to achieve both fair treatment for disabled people and furious anger for abusers.