St. Thomas loses law school ranking over error

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The University of St. Thomas School of Law has lost its ranking after announcing it had reported an incorrect percentage of its 2010 graduates who had jobs at graduation.

U.S. News and World Report magazine stripped the school of its No. 119 spot on its "Best Law Schools" list, banishing it to the category of "unranked," the Star Tribune said Thursday.

Class-action lawsuits have been filed against more than a dozen law schools for intentionally inflating data to recruit students and land a higher perch on U.S. News' influential list of "Best Schools."

St. Thomas has stressed that its error was an honest mistake, reported immediately after it was spotted in an advance copy of the rankings published this month.

"We remain deeply sorry that we failed to catch this discrepancy," school Dean Thomas Mengler told alumni in an email. "It will never happen again," he added in an interview.

The School of Law reported two different numbers on two separate lines of a form regarding the number of 2010 graduates known to be employed at the time of graduation, a school bulletin said. The correct number of 51 graduates (32.9 percent of 155 graduates) was accurately listed on one line of the form, but a different line incorrectly listed 125 graduates (80.6 percent).

The school or magazine did not report why the error occurred.

The revised data led editors to place a red asterisk by the description of the school, the Tribune said.

The share of students employed nine months after graduation, 86.5 percent, is correct in the rankings, the school said. U.S. News gives that number greater weight than the one at graduation.

In response to St. Thomas' data correction, the publication announced it would place the school in the "unranked" category "until the next Best Graduate Schools rankings and until the accuracy of each school's next data submission is confirmed to U.S. News."

Mengler said the decision to unrank the school will "create a disincentive for law schools to promptly report mistaken or erroneous data."

But in a response Wednesday, the editor of U.S. News stood by the call.

"Whether intentional or unintentional, St. Thomas received a rank it should not have been received," Brian Kelly wrote.

The school rose 16 spots higher in the report than last year, a significant leap, the Tribune said.

Employment statistics for new lawyers are increasingly scrutinized measure of a law school's quality. Class-action lawsuits have been filed against more than a dozen law schools for intentionally inflating data to recruit students and land a higher perch on U.S. News' influential list of "Best Schools."

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This page contains a single entry by tabbe019 published on March 29, 2012 10:01 AM.

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