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Cal Bar Cut Score Study - report on July 31 Cal Bar Meeting

Quick edit:  

 

Just found Lyle Moran's (Daily Journal) statement about the two options to be considered for public comment between now and August 25:

1. no change at all - cut score remains 1440.

2. change cut score to 1414 for July 2017 ONLY and revisit cut score discussion after July 2017 results are released.

 

Some thoughts:

1. The CAL BAR commissioned the study.  They're not going to commission a study that they thought would have any chance of recommending a 1330-1360 cut score.  They won't give up that easy.

2. The CAL BAR commissioned the study.  However, the Cal Supreme Court has the final say.  The Court may well say "consider the source" and side with the law school deans, who recommend a 1330-1360 cut score.

3. Evidently the Court could issue its adjustments to the cut score as early as September, according to The Recorder's article of August 1.

4. The scope of the July 28 study was based upon the written portion of the exam ONLY.  Why would you commission a study that covers only 50% of the exam?

5. Arguments for a 1414 cut score:  the study says the pass rate increases 8%.

6. Arguments against the study's methodology and the false choice of 1440 v. 1414:

a. Hastings Dean David Faigman said that the study should have begun the analysis of the cut score starting from scratch, NOT using the 1440 cut score as a baseline.  Further, why not use the MBE data as well?

b. UCLA Dean Jennifer Mnookin said that the study should be truly independent of the Cal Bar and opposed both proposals.  

7. The law school deans could provide public comment here, but why bother?  The Cal Supreme Court has the final say, so why not appeal to them directly?  I'm not sure how long it takes to conduct a proper study (i.e., considering the written portion AND the MBE portion).  If it can be done within 3-4 weeks, I'd suggest they commission it post haste.

8. What's REALLY going on here?  Keep your eye on the ball, folks. As The Recorder recently noted, "The ABA is considering adoption of a tougher bar pass rule for law schools, which would require at least 75 percent of a school's graduates to pass within two years. The ABA's House of Delegates rejected that change in February, but the section tasked with law school accreditation is re-evaluating the proposal and may bring it back in early 2018."  Perhaps some of these deans are talking about this on the merits, but don't lose focus.  This is all about accreditation.  It's much harder to increase the Bar's pass rate through admission of students who are stronger standardized test-takers (remember, the MBE is now weighted at 50%, or 14% higher than prior administrations), or through stronger support with law school classes.  Even harder to change the difficulty of the essays or the MBE questions.  Far easier though, and far cheaper, to move the cut score.

Anyhow, just remember that the Cal Bar doesn't have the final say.  The Cal Supreme Court does.  We'll soon see if that distinction is meaningful before the end of 2017.

 

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