Harvard and Yale law schools drop from US News & World Report rankings

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Yale Law School and Harvard Law School said on Wednesday they would no longer participate in US News & World Report’s annual college rankings, questioning the famed system’s methodology and values.

“The American News the rankings are deeply flawed — they discourage programs that support careers in the public interest, champion need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession,” the law school dean wrote. Yale, Heather K. Gerken, in a blog post announcing the decision on Wednesday. “We have reached a point where the filing process undermines the fundamental commitments of the legal profession.”

Yale Law consistently ranks first in the magazine’s law school rankings. Nonetheless, Gerken said the publication uses a flawed formula that “not only fails to advance the legal profession, but squarely stands in the way of progress.”

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Along the same lines as Gerken, Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning disavowed the rankings for creating “perverse incentives that influence school decisions in ways that undermine student choice and harm to the interests of potential students.

In a blog post, he wrote that the school chose to withdraw because it had become “impossible to reconcile our principles and commitments with the methodology and incentives reflected by the US News ranking.”

Manning said Harvard Law, which is ranked No. 4, has raised concerns with the magazine about the methodology that works against law school efforts to improve socioeconomic diversity and support students from different backgrounds. low-income households.

Manning and Gerken take issue with US News’ focus on LSAT scores and GPAs, which make up 20% of a law school’s overall ranking, saying it encourages institutions to ignore promising students with low test scores .

They also said the magazine ignores school-funded loan forgiveness programs when calculating student debt, which discourages institutions from supporting students who want to pursue careers in the public interest.

Harvard University did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether it would follow its law school’s lead and drop the rankings as well.

Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart said the law school’s decision does not preclude the university or other Yale schools from participating in the rankings. She said, “Each school needs to think carefully about what is best for their school and their community.”

Eric Gertler, executive chairman and general manager of US News, championed the magazine’s law school rankings as an essential tool for students.

“We will continue to fulfill our journalistic mission to ensure that students can rely on the best and most accurate information to make this decision,” Gertler said in a statement. “As part of our mission, we must continue to ensure that law schools are held accountable for the education they will provide to these students and that mission does not change with these recent announcements.

US News & World Report has come under increasing criticism over its rankings this year after a Columbia University professor questioned the data the Ivy League school had submitted to the publication. Columbia later revealed that it had reported erroneous data on class sizes and faculty degrees, and skipped the annual ranking while it considered the matter. As a result, Columbia dropped from No. 2 to No. 18.

Long before that, US News had drawn the ire of higher education advocates who attacked rankings for fueling a hunt for prestige at the expense of institutions and students. Without naming the annual list, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in August denounced rankings that value wealth and exclusivity over economic mobility and return on investment, a comment that was widely seen as a shot at US News.

It’s hard to say whether the exit from Yale and Harvard’s law schools will impact reputation or the direction of annual rankings. The famous rating system still carries weight even though a multitude of competitors have emerged in recent years. The grading formula has evolved, placing more emphasis on perseverance and graduation. College and university leaders regularly criticize and dismiss the list, but thousands of schools continue to participate.

Amanda J. Marsh