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Author Topic: An idea for U.S. News rankings  (Read 3272 times)

Top Cat

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An idea for U.S. News rankings
« on: July 28, 2009, 12:11:31 PM »
I got to thinking about the controversy around the US News ranking and its faults.  I have an idea that would improve these rankings and make them (IMO) considerably more useful.  Instead of having a single overall ranking, divide the country into regions and have regional rankings.  Market the rankings to each region, and have them all available via internet.  The regions could be divided into things like the Pacific coast and the Southeast... New York would be its own region.  Rank the top 100 schools for each region.

For example, the top five in the Pacific may be 1. Stanford, 2. Yale, 3. Harvard, 4. Berkeley, 5. Columbia, where the top five in New York might be 1. Yale, 2. Harvard, 3. Columbia, 4. NYU, 5. Stanford.  This is just a guess, but it is possible to imagine that different regions are going to prefer different schools- therefore, one national ranking is insufficient.

The intentions of these rankings would not be to rank schools within regions- U.S. News already does this.  If you are applying in New York, a Stanford degree would still be more valuable than a Fordham degree, and a UPenn degree would still get you farther than a UC Davis degree- even in California.  The rankings would reflect this.  U.S. News could even still have their national rankings, and those could remain unchanged.  For example, if John Doe is positive that he wants to work in the Midwest after graduation, he would look at the Midwest rankings, which would probably place Michigan higher than Virginia and Penn.  However, if he is unsure where he wants to work, the national rankings would indicate that these schools are pretty much equal (as they already do).

I think that this could be fairly easily implemented and greatly increase the value of rankings for potential law school applicants.  Any thoughts?
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violaboy

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Re: An idea for U.S. News rankings
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2009, 04:13:01 PM »
That's very interesting.  I'm thinking of practicing in California, but I'm not necessarily wanting to go to school there because I know that a Columbia degree would get me a great job there anyways.  Interesting thoughts, LH.

Pardon Johnny Cash.

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Re: An idea for U.S. News rankings
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2009, 05:28:40 PM »
I personally think that this could be a great idea to supplement but not replace the traditional rankings.  It wouldn't be hard to do either.  One could simply take the reputation scores school's already receive and conduct an additional assessment based upon the locale of the respondents. 

It'd be particularly interesting to see how the regional versus national rank compare and contrast. 

Good Teacher

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Re: An idea for U.S. News rankings
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2009, 08:33:16 PM »
I'd like to start by saying that you are a brilliant fellow Mr.Pardon Johnny Cash!  Thank you for your insights.

I'd be in favor of it if it is accurately described what it was ranking.  By that I mean it shouldn't be called "Top Law Schools in the ______ Region" if it really was a ranking of the LSAT scores of the entering class.  Such a ranking system should be called "Top Scoring Incoming Classes in the _______".  Also, a system that ranks schools based on public perception (e.g., judges, attorneys, and laymen) should be called "Most Popular Law Schools in the _______".  These are factors that weigh heavily in the current US News ranking matrix.  From my prospective, the US News Rankings debate will persist if they continue to use a system that ranks schools according to indicators that don't reflect the real value of the institution (i.e. the quality of the legal minds it fosters).  One might argue that such a product is intangible and can't be measured. However, any report that claims to have discovered the "Top 100 Law Schools in the Nation" and neglects to assess the instructional environment or the products of that environment is not a credible report. 

Sincerely,

Good Teacher
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Cool Beans

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Re: An idea for U.S. News rankings
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2009, 10:29:40 PM »
I'd like to start by saying that you are a brilliant fellow Mr.Pardon Johnny Cash!  Thank you for your insights.

I'd be in favor of it if it is accurately described what it was ranking.  By that I mean it shouldn't be called "Top Law Schools in the ______ Region" if it really was a ranking of the LSAT scores of the entering class.  Such a ranking system should be called "Top Scoring Incoming Classes in the _______".  Also, a system that ranks schools based on public perception (e.g., judges, attorneys, and laymen) should be called "Most Popular Law Schools in the _______".  These are factors that weigh heavily in the current US News ranking matrix.  From my prospective, the US News Rankings debate will persist if they continue to use a system that ranks schools according to indicators that don't reflect the real value of the institution (i.e. the quality of the legal minds it fosters).  One might argue that such a product is intangible and can't be measured. However, any report that claims to have discovered the "Top 100 Law Schools in the Nation" and neglects to assess the instructional environment or the products of that environment is not a credible report. 

Sincerely,

Good Teacher

I'd like to start by saying that you are a brilliant fellow Mr.Pardon Johnny Cash!  Thank you for your insights.

I'd be in favor of it if it is accurately described what it was ranking.  By that I mean it shouldn't be called "Top Law Schools in the ______ Region" if it really was a ranking of the LSAT scores of the entering class.  Such a ranking system should be called "Top Scoring Incoming Classes in the _______".  Also, a system that ranks schools based on public perception (e.g., judges, attorneys, and laymen) should be called "Most Popular Law Schools in the _______".  These are factors that weigh heavily in the current US News ranking matrix.  From my prospective, the US News Rankings debate will persist if they continue to use a system that ranks schools according to indicators that don't reflect the real value of the institution (i.e. the quality of the legal minds it fosters).  One might argue that such a product is intangible and can't be measured. However, any report that claims to have discovered the "Top 100 Law Schools in the Nation" and neglects to assess the instructional environment or the products of that environment is not a credible report. 

Sincerely,

Good Teacher


So Top Teacher, how do you propose that one measures "the quality of the legal minds it fosters".  You also seem to have a problem with reputation scores - equating that to popularity - and with aggregate LSAT scores - equating that to top scoring.  Could it be possible that the reputational scores reflect the legal minds that are produced.  Or maybe that the top scoring students tend to be the legal minds?  Maybe we should get Stephen Breyer to interview every exiting student and allow him to determine the bright minds?  Or maybe make every law school alum take some sort of facebook law iq test?  How do you think that we should improve this ranking system?  No one argues that it's not imperfect and no one argues that there's an error term.  But also, Yale is better than Florida International.  So how would *you* measure this in a way which trumps "popularity" and "top scoring"?  Let's hear it.

eta: and by no means do I love USNWR.  However, I want to know how you would implement your changes.

just Trev

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Re: An idea for U.S. News rankings
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2009, 11:58:28 PM »
all i know is, when it comes to the USNews Rankings...

WSUCoL FTW!

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Re: An idea for U.S. News rankings
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2009, 02:19:28 AM »
I'd like to start by saying that you are a brilliant fellow Mr.Pardon Johnny Cash!  Thank you for your insights.

I'd be in favor of it if it is accurately described what it was ranking.  By that I mean it shouldn't be called "Top Law Schools in the ______ Region" if it really was a ranking of the LSAT scores of the entering class.  Such a ranking system should be called "Top Scoring Incoming Classes in the _______".  Also, a system that ranks schools based on public perception (e.g., judges, attorneys, and laymen) should be called "Most Popular Law Schools in the _______".  These are factors that weigh heavily in the current US News ranking matrix.  From my prospective, the US News Rankings debate will persist if they continue to use a system that ranks schools according to indicators that don't reflect the real value of the institution (i.e. the quality of the legal minds it fosters).  One might argue that such a product is intangible and can't be measured. However, any report that claims to have discovered the "Top 100 Law Schools in the Nation" and neglects to assess the instructional environment or the products of that environment is not a credible report. 

Sincerely,

Good Teacher

I'd like to start by saying that you are a brilliant fellow Mr.Pardon Johnny Cash!  Thank you for your insights.

I'd be in favor of it if it is accurately described what it was ranking.  By that I mean it shouldn't be called "Top Law Schools in the ______ Region" if it really was a ranking of the LSAT scores of the entering class.  Such a ranking system should be called "Top Scoring Incoming Classes in the _______".  Also, a system that ranks schools based on public perception (e.g., judges, attorneys, and laymen) should be called "Most Popular Law Schools in the _______".  These are factors that weigh heavily in the current US News ranking matrix.  From my prospective, the US News Rankings debate will persist if they continue to use a system that ranks schools according to indicators that don't reflect the real value of the institution (i.e. the quality of the legal minds it fosters).  One might argue that such a product is intangible and can't be measured. However, any report that claims to have discovered the "Top 100 Law Schools in the Nation" and neglects to assess the instructional environment or the products of that environment is not a credible report. 

Sincerely,

Good Teacher


So Top Teacher, how do you propose that one measures "the quality of the legal minds it fosters".  You also seem to have a problem with reputation scores - equating that to popularity - and with aggregate LSAT scores - equating that to top scoring.  Could it be possible that the reputational scores reflect the legal minds that are produced.  Or maybe that the top scoring students tend to be the legal minds?  Maybe we should get Stephen Breyer to interview every exiting student and allow him to determine the bright minds?  Or maybe make every law school alum take some sort of facebook law iq test?  How do you think that we should improve this ranking system?  No one argues that it's not imperfect and no one argues that there's an error term.  But also, Yale is better than Florida International.  So how would *you* measure this in a way which trumps "popularity" and "top scoring"?  Let's hear it.

eta: and by no means do I love USNWR.  However, I want to know how you would implement your changes.

Hello Cool Beans.

What do you mean by the word “better”?  It seems like a silly question but that is the crux of our debate. 

My theory holds that law schools should be ranked by the “lawyering skills” of its graduates without much regard to many of the other variables used by USNWR (e.g. LSAT scores of the incoming class, popularity).  While high LSAT scorers and notoriety are good indicators that many people have determined that the school is a desirable place to be, it doesn’t guarantee anything in terms of how well graduates understand or apply the law.

I also predict that a Facebook IQ test will miss the mark.

Here’s an epiphany I hope the people at USNWR accept: we’ll probably never be able to determine which law schools are the “best” using any statistical model. Albeit, we can determine a lot of other things using stats such as the Top Scoring Incoming Class.  Moreover, since USNWR can’t actually produce what they claim (i.e. a list of the Top 100 Law Schools) they should stop misleading people with their pseudo science shenanigans and find a more appropriate title for their report.

Best regards,

Good Teacher
"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone." Henry David Thoreau

Top Cat

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Re: An idea for U.S. News rankings
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2009, 07:15:46 AM »
But we already have determined what schools are "better" using a statistical model... the question isn't whether Yale really is better than Harvard or whether Georgetown is T14 and UCLA isn't- they are.  At least according to this model.  And when you pick up the US News rankings, you know what you are getting- an evaluation of who is the best using a statistical model that they have developed.

My idea isn't a radical change at all from the US News- it is just a way to refine it.  To put it into perspective, I feel that if I am interviewing in Kentucky/ Tennessee/ the northern-Southeast, my UK degree will be better than the 55 US News indicates.  I would venture to say it would be the equivalent of a top-30 degree.  HOWEVER, if I take my UK degree over to California, my degree may not even be top-75; pretty much every Pacific coast law school will be better-considered because of alumni and attorneys who are more familiar with their reputation (reputation scores- sounds familiar, eh?).

I am not arguing for the downfall of the US News rankings.  They are here to stay, and they give us as law students a peak into our future employers minds by showing us how well schools are actually thought of.  I think, however, that if you can tweak them to account for regional bias, which is what my proposal is all about, you develop a tool more useful to both employer and employee.
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Good Teacher

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Re: An idea for U.S. News rankings
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2009, 01:25:32 PM »
Hello again Top Cat,

I understand your point; however, I respectfully disagree.

Here’s a funny story.

Three years ago, it was generally accepted that Michigan’s football program (#5 in the nation at the time) was superior to Appalachian State’s.

Southern Cal’s basketball program (#18 in the country at the time) was thought to be better than little ole Mercer.

Giuliani was also supposed to be the best candidate for the Republican presidential ticket.

All these proclamations were based on public perception and supported by someone’s stats…LOL.

Fortunately, all these theories were tested and proven false. 

The moral of the story: Neither public perception nor stats should be relied on to determine ambiguous terms like “best”, “better”, or “Top”. 

Another epiphany:  If they were great indicators, Sports conferences and Election Committees would have abandoned the idea of a contest a long time ago.  What would be the need in letting two square off if all they had to do was refer to a poll or ask “X” number of experts which is best, better, or top?

This has been a good exercise in thought, however I’m done posting on this topic.  I’ve got some “get ready for law school” reading to finish.

Best wishes

The Good Teacher
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Cool Beans

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Re: An idea for U.S. News rankings
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2009, 01:35:22 PM »
Hello again Top Cat,

I understand your point; however, I respectfully disagree.

Here’s a funny story.

Three years ago, it was generally accepted that Michigan’s football program (#5 in the nation at the time) was superior to Appalachian State’s.

Southern Cal’s basketball program (#18 in the country at the time) was thought to be better than little ole Mercer.

Giuliani was also supposed to be the best candidate for the Republican presidential ticket.

All these proclamations were based on public perception and supported by someone’s stats…LOL.

Fortunately, all these theories were tested and proven false. 

The moral of the story: Neither public perception nor stats should be relied on to determine ambiguous terms like “best”, “better”, or “Top”. 

Another epiphany:  If they were great indicators, Sports conferences and Election Committees would have abandoned the idea of a contest a long time ago.  What would be the need in letting two square off if all they had to do was refer to a poll or ask “X” number of experts which is best, better, or top?

This has been a good exercise in thought, however I’m done posting on this topic.  I’ve got some “get ready for law school” reading to finish.

Best wishes

The Good Teacher


Sorry, but this is piss poor logic.  Just awful logic.

- First, you can't cherry pick anecdotal events out of the history of events.  Guess what, Michigan beats the 1-AA 100 times in a row.  It's predicted and it occurs.  Again, no one's saying the rankings are perfect.  However, they're a decent reflection of reality with an error term - meaning that predictions are perfect but they're pretty good.  So because Mercer beat USC, it doesn't mean that law school rankings are bogus.  Maybe I should cite 4 or 5 events where the favorites won?  Would this prove my point?  Nope.  And neither did you.

- Just because Michigan lost to Appalachian State, doesn't make ASU the better team.  They won on that day.  If they played 20 more times, Michigan might have won.  So, furthermore, your evidence does nothing to support your claim that a theory was tested and proven false.

- Your hypothetical is pointless.  Why do we make people vote?  Do you need a civics lesson?  This analogy with law school rankings is horrendous being that they are different in way too many key respects.

- Basically you're trying to prove that the USNWR rankings are worthless and trying to demonstrate this by demonstrating that they're not perfect.  Uh huh, they're not perfect.  There's a big error term.  Top Cat's suggestion makes a lot of sense.  It'll improve the helpfulness of the information.