From the ABA Journal:
LSAT will change for all would-be lawyers as a result of blind man’s lawsuit settlement
BY DEBRA CASSENS WEISS, OCTOBER 9, 2019, 2:11 PM CDT
The current analytical reasoning section of the Law School Admission Test will eventually be dropped as a result of a settlement in a lawsuit by a legally blind man who said he was unable to draw diagrams to help him answer the questions.
But analytical reasoning—also referred to as logic games—will still be assessed on the test, according to a press release announcing the settlement. Over the next four years, the Law School Admission Council will develop different ways of testing analytical reasoning.
Maybe the Law School Admission Council should have developed the different ways first before agreeing? Just to see if they work?
It’s by no means unthinkable. Because psychometric testing is, in substantial measure, a test of the general factor of intelligence, there can be many ways to create reasonably valid tests.
The Logic Games aren’t some culture-free, unpreppable section of the LSAT. Most test-takers first take a class on how to to do them with pencil and paper (or judging by this example to the right, multiple colored pens). People who go on to score well on the LSAT tend to improve a lot from their first sample test encounter with Logic Games to their final sitting of the LSAT.
Here’s a sample question from the LSAC:
Passage for Question 1
A university library budget committee must reduce exactly five of eight areas of expenditure—G, L, M, N, P, R, S, and W—in accordance with the following conditions:
If both G and S are reduced, W is also reduced.
If N is reduced, neither R nor S is reduced.
If P is reduced, L is not reduced.
Of the three areas L, M, and R, exactly two are reduced.
If both M and R are reduced, which one of the following is a pair of areas neither of which could be reduced?
A. G, L
B. G, N
C. L, N
D. L, P
E. P, S
Back to the article:
… The changes are part of a broader review of how to test for fundamental skills for success in law schools in ways that can improve access for all test takers.
The zeitgeist is inclining toward dumping standardized testing as racist. Wesley Yang speculated:
We really do seem to be reaching the end of the standardized testing regime.
There will be a dual movement — progressive politics will attain explicit hegemony as the criterion for inclusion within “elite” institutions, and those institutions will see their own hegemony erode
There will be a period in which parroting progressive dogma becomes the new Confucian classics, which will create openings for various skilled-based market-driven education alternatives
The standardized testing regime created a period in which the exemplary praise you gave someone was that you called them “smart”. This didn’t actually create smart institutions or people. The new regime will create people whom one praises as “sensitive”.
These people will not be more caring or kind than anyone else.
Back to the ABA Journal:
The LSAC sent an email to law schools on Tuesday saying it is too early to speculate on how the test will evolve, Law.com reports. Any significant changes to format will require extensive research, testing and analysis, the email said. In the meantime, the LSAT will continue to test analytical reasoning.
… Lawyer Jason Turkish told Above the Law that he hopes the test won’t look anything like the current version. He gave this example of a reasoning question that he considers irrelevant to law practice: A, B, C, D and E go into a bar and E is next to A and A is next to B and C must be two spaces over from E. Where is D?
“I’ve never had to answer a question like that in any state or federal court,” Turkish said, “but that’s how we’re deciding who’s going to go to law school.”
I don’t know much about the LSAT, but I presume the Logic Games are intended to test for the ability to decipher and think about complex contracts. Lawyers who work on contracts are constantly thinking in terms like: If this happen, then that must happen, or else something different happens. These kind of
Contract law is rather like a computer programming language, just using 14th Century terms like escheatment. (I suggested this at lunch at Oracle in 1994: all the programmers agreed, while all the lawyers were aghast the idea.)
It’s possible that the LSAC can quickly come up with an almost as good replacement for the Logic Games.
On the other hand, the law has an unfortunate history of throwing out good tests, such as the Luevano case in January 1981 when the outgoing Carter Administration purposefully took a dive and signed a consent decree in a low-brow lawsuit it had encouraged against the federal government that claimed that the recently developed and highly sophisticated new version of the federal civil service exam was discriminatory against Latinos and blacks because they averaged lower scores. The Carter lawyers contended that the new Reagan Administration could surely whip up a non-discriminatory replacement exam real soon now on which all groups would average equal scores.
We’re still waiting.
This development is an interesting example of how the reigning Minoritarian ideology leads to throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
Because the truly blind are such a small minority of youngish LSAT-takers these days, that makes their problems appear even more urgent. Granted, the blind will never be as massively important as the transgender, but because they are small and declining percentage of the population, their needs must overrule the needs of the vast majority. As utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham pointed out, our goal should always be to maximize the greatest good for the smallest number.
Personally, I have lots of sympathy for the blind.
Obviously, it would probably make more sense for the small number of people who are truly blind enough that they can’t use pencil and paper to be granted some kind of accommodation on the LSAT by law schools, such as that their LSAT scores get reported without the Logic Games section, and they are evaluated based on their percentile score on the rest of their LSAT.
But, increasingly, that’s not the way we do things these days.
iSteve commenter R.G. Camara writes:
Law schools are due for a mega-contraction soon anyway. They have long been known as money-makers who do not produce much value; if it were not required in every state for one to attend law school to take the bar, the apprenticeship/”reading law” method would come back with a vengeance.
Methinks this a method by which law schools hope to encourage more unqualified students to apply, get in, and pay $150,000 to have a degree that gets them no decently paying job—or any job at all.
If your LSAT score is low, many are turned off at applying to law school especially when they hear about how big firms have been collapsing and lucrative jobs are few. So if the law school folks can fool you into thinking your LSAT score isn’t that bad, you might be fooled into thinking you can make it in the law.
So law schools must be hurting enough that they need to pull this crap and bilk some more money off of people. In about 10 years we’ll see articles about how “minority” law graduates are “drowning” in debt and couldn’t get a job despite “decent” LSAT scores, and how this was all a scam.