Law School Discussion

Evolutionary prospects for labeled "dull" and "superior" ?

Re: Evolutionary prospects for labeled "dull" and "superior" ?
« Reply #80 on: November 28, 2008, 10:56:28 PM »
Columbia, Missouri |
Achievement gap
Black students fall behind

By HENRY J. WATERS III, Publisher, Columbia Daily Tribune
Published Friday, November 14, 2008

"Lawson and Stephens have talked about building a target school or classrooms for failing black students led by blacks." ???

Achievement gap
Black students fall behind

By HENRY J. WATERS III, Publisher, Columbia Daily Tribune
Published Friday, November 14, 2008

Despite the 2003 transformation of West Boulevard Elementary to a "model school" focused on closing the achievement gap between black and white students, recent test results show the problem has worsened. MAP scores show blacks now do worse in Columbia schools than across the state and the gap is even wider here, partly because local white students outperform their statewide peers. Nothing wrong with white outperformance, of course, so the issue is poor performance by blacks, not merely the achievement gap.

During the five years of the experiment, the district spent more each year per student at West Boulevard than elsewhere on extraordinary efforts aimed at raising test scores among the school’s minority population, without the desired result. Now Chief Academic Officer Sally Beth Lyon says the district will "go back to square one," reappointing its Achievement Gap Task Force.

School board member Steve Calloway says the district is failing "some of our kids." Rosie Tippin says the district doesn’t understand black kids. Black boys in particular think education is not cool, she says, so they conscientiously remain dumb. Calloway and Tippin are the black members of the board.

From an outside perspective, it seems more accurate to say black kids are failing themselves by not taking advantage of the opportunity offered by Columbia Public Schools. The school district should do anything it can to improve the learning level of all students, particularly the lowest achievers, but it’s not fair to say the district is failing.

Except in this important regard: Columbia schools lack black male teachers and other mentors.

If this is a failure, it is widespread. School districts everywhere struggle to hire black male teachers, so rare is the breed. But, as local activists Lorenzo Lawson and Nathan Stephens point out, this is a crucial factor leading to poor achievement among black students, particularly boys, and when boys opt out, girls usually are close behind.

I’ve discussed this issue often with Lawson and Stephens and have become convinced they are absolutely right. A few black kids can succeed in a district like ours, but it’s an extraordinary achievement. The youngster has to literally escape his own culture to succeed in a white school, and despite the presence of growing numbers of black students, Columbia schools can accurately be described as white, meaning the role models, the authority groups, are essentially white.

One can say it’s up to the black students to take advantage of what these whites are offering, which is everything one can expect, but they can’t fill the crucial peer model role.

Lawson and Stephens have talked about building a target school or classrooms for failing black students led by blacks. Sadly, we have such a student clientele, and public money is available for their continuing education if they can be kept in the system.

An ethnic role model presence is necessary. No such presence will be created using the traditional methods even our good school system uses. Until the district is ready to look further, the achievement gap will persist. To their credit, local school officials have tried hard with traditional approaches that, in retrospect, were bound to fail. Now, what do they have to lose by talking with Lorenzo and Nathan? They are thoughtful men who have some pertinent ideas, if our minds are open enough to let them in.

Re: Evolutionary prospects for labeled "dull" and "superior" ?
« Reply #81 on: December 14, 2008, 10:10:51 PM »

Michigan law school’s plan to waive the LSAT
Skip the LSAT, Head Straight to Law School!


Posted By Dan Slater On September 25, 2008 @ 5:07 pm In Law School

UPDATE: Given all the hand-wringing over Michigan law school’s plan to waive the LSAT for Michigan undergrads who have at least a 3.8 GPA, we rang up Sarah Zearfoss, the dean of admissions, to get the inside dope.

“When it comes to this ‘gaming the rankings’ allegation,” says Zearfoss, “I think there are two important pieces. First, the number of people I’m contemplating admitting [on the Wolverine Scholars Program] is between 5 and 10. We have a first-year class of 360. So it wouldn’t have any effect on the LSAT median, and I don’t see how it could have any effect on the GPA median either. Second, there are only 200 people in the entire University of Michigan junior class who have a GPA of 3.8 or higher. Obviously, most of them don’t want to apply to law school, and of those who do, many won’t choose this program.”

She continued: “So if gaming the rankings isn’t our motive, then the question is, what is our motive? Michigan is in an unusual position. We’re a national school and a public institution. We know, from all kinds of anecdotal evidence, that our position as a national school often discourages people in our own backyard from applying. This is a way for me to to signal that I view Michigan as a strong institution.”

So why is 3.8 the magic GPA? “We looked at a lot of historical data,” explained Zearfoss, “and that’s the number we found where, regardless of what LSAT the person had, they do well in the class. As you get below that number, there’s a little less certainty.”
_____________________________ ____________________

Imagine this: No six-week LSAT review course. No struggling with those blasted “logic” problems. No horrendous pre-game anxiety dreams in which you show up at the testing site without pants or No. 2 pencils (or maybe that was just us).

A world of LSAT-free law school admission is coming to Michigan law school, according to a report on its Web site announcing the Wolverine Scholars Program. Here’s how it works: UM undergrads who have at least completed their junior year and at most are scheduled to graduate in Winter or Spring 2009 and who have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.80 are eligible to apply to the law school without taking the LSAT.

The Web site says:

      The Law School’s in-depth familiarity with Michigan undergrad curricula and faculty, coupled with significant historic data for assessing the potential performance of Michigan undergrads at the Law School, will allow us to perform an intensive review of the undergraduate curriculum of applicants . . . and have confidence in our ability to assess an applicant’s academic strengths and the likelihood of outstanding engagement with the Law School. For this select group of qualified applicants, therefore, we will omit our usual requirement that applicants submit an LSAT score. . .Because we wish to encourage broad participation in this program, we will waive the usual application fee for anyone applying under the Wolverine Scholars program.

Re: Evolutionary prospects for labeled "dull" and "superior" ?
« Reply #82 on: January 24, 2009, 03:09:25 PM »
Sept. 30
A Crack in the Dominance of the LSAT?

While more and more colleges are questioning the use of the SAT, the use of standardized tests for law and medical school admissions is much more widely accepted. The American Bar Association, for example, views the use of admission tests as a key way to measure the suitability of law schools for accreditation. And as a result, the Law School Admission Test is routinely required by law schools.

As a result, more than a few eyebrows have been raised in the past few days by word that the University of Michigan’s law school will start admitting a small share of its class without LSAT scores. Michigan says that the goal of its Wolverine Scholars program is to attract more students from its home state. But because Michigan’s law school is considered to be among the best in the country and because the LSAT is so routinely a major part of law school admissions, the move is attracting scrutiny in the legal blogosphere.

By no means is Michigan abandoning the LSAT. The program is open only to Michigan undergraduates with a grade point average of at least 3.8. Sarah C. Zearfoss, assistant dean of the law school and its director of admissions, said that only about 5-10 students will be admitted this way, out of a class of 360, and that the primary goal is to attract more Michigan students. Michigan’s law school is unusual among public law schools in its relatively low proportion of in-state residents — 22 percent. (By comparison 70 percent of students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill law school are from the state; at the University of California at Los Angeles, the figure is 60 percent.)

Michigan’s description of its new programs gives this explanation for why it is not requiring the LSAT: “The law school’s in-depth familiarity with Michigan undergrad curricula and faculty, coupled with significant historic data for assessing the potential performance of Michigan undergrads at the Law School, will allow us to perform an intensive review of the undergraduate curriculum of applicants, even beyond the typical close scrutiny we devote, and have confidence in our ability to assess an applicant’s academic strengths and the likelihood of outstanding engagement with the law school. For this select group of qualified applicants, therefore, we will omit our usual requirement that applicants submit an LSAT score.”

Many law school bloggers have jumped to the conclusion that the law school is trying to improve its rankings in U.S. News by attracting students with very high grades but perhaps those students who wouldn’t score well on the LSAT. In this scenario, Michigan gets more points for a higher GPA and its LSAT average could rise, too. (Both grade and LSAT medians are part of the magazine’s methodology for law schools.) Michigan’s move is being called “a new low in ‘gaming’ the U.S. News rankings,” and there is much speculation that this is all about the magazine.

Zearfoss said there is no such strategy at work. The number of students who will be admitted this way is such a “fractional sliver” of the class that “this couldn’t be a successful route for manipulating the rankings, even if we were so inclined,” she said. Michigan has “well considered policy objectives” for the program, she said, adding that the law school has never made decisions based on “blind obeisance to rankings.”

She said it was surprising to find so much skepticism at “one very small outside-the-box” move by a law school, especially when “many organizations are examining the appropriate use of standardized tests.”

In fact some experts on standardized tests agree that what’s significant here isn’t the rankings, but the idea that a top law school would go on record saying that it’s possible to make informed admissions decisions, even in a minority of cases, without the LSAT.

Robert Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, called the move “a step in the right direction.” He said he believes Michigan and other law schools don’t even need such a high GPA to make such a shift, but that the principle involved is what’s important. “Top-notch performance in a rigorous undergraduate curriculum is a better predictor of readiness for graduate school than any multiple-choice exam,” he said.

He also said that, for all the concern among educators about the hysteria over SAT scores and the growth of the test-prep industry, things are even worse for professional school testing, which he said “makes the pre-SAT frenzy look mild — nearly every person who sits for the LSAT, MCAT or GMAT has paid for some form of coaching.”

Law schools that don’t use the LSAT are shunned by the ABA. The refusal of the Massachusetts School of Law to require the LSAT was among several disputes that led to years of fighting with the ABA over its refusal to accredit the non-traditional law school. (Having lost in court, at this point the law school says it no longer wants ABA recognition and can operate without it.) The Massachusetts School of Law requires all applicants to have interviews and to take an essay test it has developed, and argues that its method helps to identify talented students who might not have earned great LSAT scores.

Lawrence R. Velvel, the dean of the school, said that the LSAT “is all about elitism — it’s about saying your law school is better than another law school because you have better LSAT scores.” While Velvel said his law school does not track students’ race and ethnicity, he said that well more than one fourth of students are from minority groups and that many students come from relatively modest economic backgrounds. The “interests of the public at large,” he said, demand that law schools not rely on tests on which wealthy students have advantages.

Asked about Michigan’s new program, he said, “I don’t care what Michigan does because we’ve known for 20 years that we are right. I simply consider that Michigan is the first very small inroad in the rest of law schools to doing what we know is right, and what is increasingly taking place in fields other than law.”

Michael A. Olivas, a professor of law at the University of Houston who has served on many national committees on legal education, said it was important not to overstate the significance of Michigan’s move. He noted that Bowdoin College went SAT-optional decades ago and for a long time, not many colleges followed, and even today, SAT-optional isn’t the norm for highly competitive colleges. So Olivas predicted a “modest” impact.

Still, he said that just as Bowdoin “got people thinking,” Michigan will also prompt other law schools to think about their approaches. “It’s a good idea to have alternatives floating around,” he said.

One person who thinks that Michigan is making a mistake is Ellen Rutt, associate dean for admissions at the University of Connecticut’s law school and chair of the Law School Admissions Council, which runs the LSAT. She noted that the ABA requires a test and said that LSAT was “the gold standard.”

In addition, Rutt questioned how Michigan would respond if many students with high grades applied, as could be possible at an institution as large as that university. “You have to discriminate among them somehow,” she said. “I think they are losing something very crucial to the admissions process” for “comparability” and providing “greater precision in predicting first-year performance,” she said.

— Scott Jaschik

Re: Evolutionary prospects for labeled "dull" and "superior" ?
« Reply #83 on: March 11, 2009, 07:15:24 AM »
March 11, 2009
Study Offers a New Test of Potential Lawyers
Just what makes a good lawyer? In trying to answer that question, professors at the University of California, Berkeley, have come up with a test that they say is better at predicting success in the field than the widely used Law School Admission Test.

The LSAT, as the half-day exam is known, does not claim to predict much beyond a student’s performance in law school. But critics contend that it does not evaluate how good a lawyer someone will be and tests for the wrong things. They also say it keeps many black and Hispanic students — who tend to have lower scores — out of the legal profession.

Marjorie M. Shultz, a law professor who retired last year from Berkeley and is one of the study’s authors, said she began to examine the issue after California voters approved Proposition 209, which banned consideration of race in admissions.

“Proposition 209 and the reduced numbers of minority admits prompted me to think hard about what constitutes merit for purposes of law school admission, and to decide LSAT was much too narrow, as well as having big adverse impact,” Professor Shultz said.

The Law School Admissions Council, which administers the LSAT, helped finance Professor Shultz’s research, which has not appeared in any scholarly journals. Nonetheless, Wendy Margolis, a council spokeswoman, defended the LSAT, saying that how a student does in law school “has a great deal to do with ultimate success as a lawyer.”

Ms. Margolis added, “We think it would be difficult to predict success as a lawyer prior to law school.”

But that is exactly what Professor Shultz and Prof. Sheldon Zedeck, a colleague in the university’s psychology department, wanted to do.

To find out what applicant traits should figure in admissions decisions at law schools, they coordinated individual interviews, focus groups and ultimately a survey of judges, law school professors, law firm clients and hundreds of graduates of Berkeley’s law school.

They asked, among other things, “If you were looking for a lawyer for an important matter for yourself, what qualities would you most look for? What kind of lawyer do you want to teach or be?”

The survey produced a list of 26 characteristics, or “effectiveness factors,” like the ability to write, manage stress, listen, research the law and solve problems. The professors then collected examples from the Berkeley alumni of specific behavior by lawyers that were considered more or less effective.

Using the examples, Professor Shultz and Professor Zedeck developed a test that could be administered to law school applicants to measure their raw lawyerly talent.

Instead of focusing on analytic ability, the new test includes questions about how to respond to hypothetical situations. For example, it might describe a company with a policy requiring immediate firing of any employee who lied on an application, then ask what a test taker would do upon discovering that a top-performing employee had omitted something on an application.

More than 1,100 lawyers took the test and agreed to let the researchers see their original LSAT scores, as well as grades from college and law school.

The study concluded that while LSAT scores, for example, “were not particularly useful” in predicting lawyer effectiveness, the new, alternative test results were — although the new test was no better at predicting how well participants would do in law school. Unlike the LSAT, the new test did not produce a gap in scores among different racial or ethnic groups.

But participants might have performed differently on it, had they taken the test when they were applying to law school. Professor Shultz said this was one reason the next step in the research should include tracking test takers over time, from when they apply to law school through their careers.

David E. Van Zandt, dean of the law school at Northwestern, said he would welcome a supplement to the LSAT to evaluate applicants, a sentiment echoed by other law school deans.

John H. Garvey, dean of Boston College Law School and past president of the Association of American Law Schools, said, “It would be good for us and for other schools to have other measures that complement the LSAT and that would help us identify promising candidates.”

While his school’s admissions decisions involved much more than just LSAT scores — grades, work experience, recommendations and the like — Mr. Garvey said that more and possibly better predictive information would be helpful.

“Everybody would be happy for that,” he said. “There is not that much magic in the LSAT that we wouldn’t be willing to add to it to accomplish our more important goals.”

Both Professor Shultz and Ms. Margolis, the Law School Admission Council spokeswoman, said the next step was to survey lawyers nationwide, not just alumni of Berkeley, to test the measures of lawyer quality in a bigger pool.

Re: Evolutionary prospects for labeled "dull" and "superior" ?
« Reply #84 on: April 04, 2009, 02:34:18 PM »
Where Are Black Law Students?

Black Excel created the telling list below based on "diversity" data collected by
U.S. News Report for specific law schools for 2003. Go to the link below for the
latest data.

• Howard University (DC)---88%
• CUNY, Queens College-NYC---15%
• Rutgers State University-Newark, NJ---15%
• Thomas M. Cooley Law School (MI)---23%
• George Washington University (DC)---12%
• Touro College (Jacob D. Fuchsberg)---11%
• Georgetown University (DC)---10%
• Vanderbilt University (TN)---13%
• University of Maryland---11%
• Catholic University of America (DC)---9%
• Duke University (NC)--9%
• Loyola University of New Orleans---11%
• Oklahoma City University--7%
• Tulane University (LA)---10%
• University of Baltimore (MD)--14%
• University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill--10%
• Florida Coastal School of Law---11%
• Temple University (PA)--7%
• University of Cincinnati--9%
• University of Buffalo (NY)--7%
• University of Arkansas--10%
• Washington & Lee University (VA)---13%
• Ohio State University---8%
• College of William and Mary (VA)--9%
• John Marshall Law School (IL)--7%
• Indiana University (Bloomington) ---7%
• Indiana University (Indianapolis)--9%
• Wayne State University (MI)--10%
• Georgia State University---10%
• University of Georgia---11%
• University of Dayton (OH)--6%
• University of Detroit (Mercy)--11%
• University of Tennessee--12%
• Louisiana State University--10%
• University of Memphis---10%
• Mercer University (GA)---9%
• Capitol University (OH)---8%

For the lastest date, go to