Building a Validity Argument for LSAC’s Legal Education Program
By Krista Mattern, principal measurement scientist, product development
Earlier this year, LSAC announced a new initiative, the Legal Education Program, which will provide students with a new, holistic pathway to law school. The program, which will be delivered through undergraduate institutions, will help students develop skills critical for law school success, learn to navigate the admission process, and acquire the tools they need to build a network to support them during law school.
The program’s design is based on research and evidence to ensure we are offering a solution that best serves the needs of aspiring law students. As part of the implementation of an evidence-centered approach, we have a robust research agenda to investigate both the efficacy of the program and the validity of the new Legal Education Program measures for use in law school admissions.
In an earlier blog, we described our pilot study with undergraduate institutions, which launched in the fall of 2022 and is running through the spring of 2023. The primary focus of that study is to evaluate the efficacy of the Legal Education Program in terms of helping students develop the skills, abilities, and other characteristics critical for law school success. Another focus of the study is to evaluate the reliability of the new Legal Education Program measures and their relationship with LSAT performance.
We are also undertaking a concurrent validity study for the spring of 2023, another critical research endeavor. We are currently recruiting law schools to participate in this study, which will examine the relationship between performance on the new Legal Education Program measures and law school outcomes, such as first-year law school GPA.
Students participating in the Legal Education Program pilot study are currently completing their undergraduate education, and thus it will be years before they earn their undergraduate degree, apply and are admitted to law school, and complete their first year of law school. Therefore, the concurrent validity study is critical to give us a shorter-term view of understanding the relationship between the new Legal Education Program measures and law school performance.
Similar to our research showing that higher LSAT scores are associated with higher law school performance, we want to evaluate the extent to which performance on the new Legal Education Program measures relates to law school success. Documenting this type of evidence is critical as we build out a validity argument in support of using the Legal Education Program certification credentials as part of the law school admission process. More information about the study design and requirements are detailed here.
For law schools interested in opening access to the legal profession by providing new, research-based pathways to law school, we invite you to participate in the concurrent validity study. In addition to supporting the collection of validity evidence for this new program, as a participating law school, you will receive institution-specific results, detailing how performance on the new Legal Education Program measures relates to success at your institution for your students, which can help inform your admission policies in the future. To learn more about this research opportunity, you can contact us at LegalEducationProgram@LSAC.org.
As we plan for the official launch of the Legal Education Program in the fall of 2023 and as more and more students go through the program and matriculate to law school, we will continue to monitor the efficacy of the program and the validity of the Legal Education Program measures and make that research available.