US News & World Report changing law school rankings after schools balk
U.S. News & World Report announced on Monday that it would be making multiple changes to how it ranks law schools after several high-profile institutions dropped the rankings in recent months.
U.S. News has one of the best-known college rankings systems and has become embroiled in controversies as leading institutions such as Harvard Law, Yale Law, Columbia Law and others slammed the metrics for the rankings and said they would no longer cooperate with them.
In a letter addressed to “Law School Deans” and posted on its website, U.S. News announced several changes to how it will rank schools.
The most significant include putting less weight on peer assessment reviews of schools from academics, lawyers and judges, giving full weight to schools that offer fellowships for students going into public service and giving credit to schools for students who choose to pursue graduate degrees.
Robert Morse, chief data strategist for U.S. News, and Stephanie Salmon, senior vice president for data and information strategy for the publication, said in the letter they are also working on criteria for loan assistance help, need-based aid and “diversity and socio-economic considerations,” but that will take more time to develop.
The letter says these changes came after conversations with more than 100 law school deans and officials, where the outlet found schools wanted them to focus “more weight on outcomes, such as bar passage and employment outcomes.”
The changes were also announced after more than 10 law schools said they would no longer give U.S. News data on their institutions.
Among the top complaints for these schools was the weight given to peer assessments on institutions and the undervaluation of fellowships to help get more lawyers into public service.
Harvard Law School Dean John Manning took aim at the rankings’ debt metric in the school’s announcement they were leaving the rankings, saying it encouraged schools to only admit wealthy individuals who could afford to pay and didn’t take into account the school’s loan forgiveness programs.
“We have helped expand the universe of well-known law schools beyond the club of Ivy League schools of the last century. But we realize that legal education is neither monolithic nor static and that the rankings, by becoming so widely accepted, may not capture the individual nuances of each school in the larger goal of using a common set of data,” U.S. News said in the announcement.
It also said it will continue to rank schools that don’t cooperate and provide data, as much of it is publicly available, but schools that do give data will get more detailed profiles of their institutions.