« on: February 22, 2005, 03:05:40 AM »
Affirmative action study met with controversy
(U-WIRE) BERKELEY, Calif. - A recent study that found affirmative action hurts black students' performance in law school has stirred up controversy among faculty and students at law schools across the nation.
The report, published in the Stanford Law Review in December, revealed that many black students are unable to perform well at top-ranking law schools because they were admitted because of racial preference.
"Student expectations can backfire when they are too high," said Richard Sander, a University of California at Los Angeles professor who wrote the study. "Students who were in by affirmative action were not prepared for exams - law professors move at a faster pace at the elite schools."
Sander's report reveals that the average black student's LSAT score was 130 to 170 points below the average score of a white student's. According to his report, 52 percent of black law students have grades in the lowest 10th percentile after finishing their first year, while 8 percent rank in the top half.
But critics of the study slam Sander and his findings for leaving out other factors that could explain why black law students are performing below par.
University of California-Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu, who published a rebuttal to Sander's report in the California Bar Journal this month, said there is no direct correlation in the gap between law school entrance eligibility and law school grades.
"Entering credentials is not attributable to affirmative action," Liu said. "Blacks would still be at the bottom and not the top even if there is no affirmative action. The study is missing an important statistical step that has nothing to do with affirmative action."
Sander said his findings show black students would get better GPAs if they applied to less prestigious schools. Employers are now hiring more black lawyers, regardless of where they went to school, he said