US News Rankings: A Chart of the Past Decade

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13 Responses

  1. Hank says:

    The data for Virginia is incorrect. They should be at 8 instead of 10.

  2. Frank says:

    Very nice collection of data. I’m impressed by the stability more than the movement; I don’t know if it validates the rankings themselves or criticism of them. As statistics texts show, variability and bias are separate indicators of (in)validity.

    I think the stability demonstrates that the rankings are not very variable. But it doesn’t do much to show that they are unbiased.

    Of course, variability may be a good thing to the extent schools themselves change. But I have little sense of that. Have any of these schools changed a great deal over the past 10 years? If they have, then perhaps we should see more variabiltiy. But if they have not, perhaps the rankings, for all their defects, have found some useful way of assessing quality (ala Korobkin’s guarded endorsement of them in the recent Indiana symposium), or at least reflecting pervasive assessments of quality and balancing such assessments with relatively stable quantitative data.

  3. ac says:

    Rank variability does not seem like the right metric. Even with fairly stable scores, ranks could vary wildly with fairly small changes in score. For example, in this year’s USNWR, while the gap between 1 and 2 is 8 points, the gap between 19 and 34 is 6 points.

  4. mj fghg says:

    The 2006 rankings in your chart is actually the 2007 rankings

  5. mj fghg — We realize that — see this post. For some reason, US News rankings say they are for the next year; we’re going by the year in which the ranking issue came out to avoid any confusion.

  6. J. says:

    Just to note: The rep ratings are even more constant. The big difference is that Michigan is also always a T6 in the rep ratings, and usually a point or 2 above UVa/Boalt.

  7. nt says:

    Stanford was not number 4 in 1997 (USNews 1998); it hasn’t been below number 3 since 1991.

  8. Scott Moss says:

    The consistency of “academic reputation” was striking to me. I think that we academics believe schools’ academic prominence rises and falls substantially each year; see Leiter’s blog, for example, talking about how this or that school has substantially improved/weakened with its last three or four faculty hires or losses.

    My impression is that certain schools have become much stronger (or stagnated) in terms of scholarship in the past however many years. But perhaps our perception “from the inside” of the degreee of change is exaggerated.

    Does the consistency of academic rep mean that schools seeking to improve their US News ranking should NOT focus on scholarship, because to date NO school has improved its academic reputation substantially, even over many years?

  9. Dan Filler says:

    NT, Stanford was in fact ranked fourth in 1997. Its overall score was 0.1 behind third place Chicago.

  10. nt says:

    I think I may have found the problem. According to this website, which has the old records on file,

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LawSchoolRankings/files/

    the rankings as originally published in the magazine were incorrectly calculated. The correct rankings, which USNews later issued, had Stanford at 98.5 and Chicago at 98.1.

    A trivial difference, obviously.

  11. Jane Doe says:

    Do you hear yourselves? “So and So University is actually 3, not 4!” Are you kidding me? They’re just rankings; the opinion of one magazine based on WHAT exactly? Still not sure. Maybe everyone should focus on important stuff, like poverty, for example, and not if your precious law school is ranked 2 or 3 in 1997!

  12. John Doe, J.D. says:

    It’s really amazing how much influence the media has on academia. You would think that intelligent people would refrain from such naive bickering over arbitrary rankings. Furthermore, if you actually consider how these rankings are conducted you would see that they really have nothing to do with quality or “career value”.

    If there one is thing that has certainly become clear to me in the field of law, it’s that your success as an attorney is not dependent on which school you graduate from. In the end, it’s just a piece of paper you own. I’ve known terrible attorneys that graduated from “top” (and I mean top in the sense of these subjective rankings…as in 1-10!) law schools.

    I am sure that if you ask any experienced attorney, they will tell you that you acquire most of your legal knowledge through experience and not during law school!

    The lesson to learn: how successful you are as an attorney (or anything in life, for that matter) is not dependent on the writing on a piece of paper!

  13. Darwin says:

    Where can you find past US News rankings for law schools not in the top 25?