A Successful Launch of LSAC’s LawReady™ Pilot
My colleague, Tony Shiver, and I have spent the last year building the academic pillar of LawReady™, using an evidence-centered design approach to help ensure the program achieves our intended claims around efficacy and validity:
- LawReady is effective at improving the skills needed to succeed in law school
- The LawReady Certificate and LawReady measures are valid and reliable indicators of law school readiness
As announced in an earlier blog, we are conducting a pilot study in partnership with a handful of undergraduate institutions to gather validity and efficacy evidence around those claims. The study design requires students to take the LSAT at the start of the pilot, complete a pilot version of LawReady, which includes enrolling and completing two undergraduate courses that have been identified as aligned to the LawReady standards, and then retake the LSAT at the end of the program.
We will evaluate whether pilot students have larger LSAT score gains as compared to the score gains for a matched sample of nonparticipants. In addition to evaluating the efficacy of LawReady, we will also evaluate how performance on the new LawReady measures relates to LSAT performance to collect validity evidence in support of these measures as a signal of law school readiness. These measures include a reasoning assessment, an argumentative writing scoring rubric, and an observational scoring rubric to assess students on speaking, active listening, time management, attention to detail, effort/persistence, working constructively with others, and open-mindedness.
We kicked off the pilot this fall with more than 60 students from four undergraduate institutions – Cornell College, George Mason University, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and the University of South Alabama. These students completed several key milestones such as taking the LSAT during the September administration and enrolling in their first aligned course. These students will enroll in their second aligned course in the spring and retake the LSAT at the end of the program.
We are working with an additional two institutions – the University at Albany and Dillard University – to kick off a pilot in the spring. Roughly 35 more students have registered for the pilot. The spring pilot students will take the LSAT in January, complete the two aligned courses in the spring, and retake the LSAT in June.
With nearly one semester of the pilot under our belt, I want to turn it over to my colleague, Tony, to share his unique experience in terms of working on the design and development of the academic pillar as well as serving as the pilot instructor at University of South Alabama in his role as an adjunct professor:
“The pilot is in its early stages, but the feedback from pilot students has been extremely positive. One of my more incredulous students told me, for example, that she did not initially believe that taking a critical thinking course would make any difference in improving her LSAT performance (her primary concern as a rising junior), but that studying for the LSAT after a few months of the course was easier because she suddenly understood why the answers to the practice questions were right. None of her coursework up to this point had helped her in that way. She thinks we’re on to something. Given what I’ve seen in the classroom, I agree.
Going into the pilot we were worried that instructors would be reluctant to tailor their courses to support the pilot's goals. That has not been the case. The feedback we’ve gotten so far is that incorporating LawReady assessments into courses is straightforward, and that they are high quality, useful tools for giving students feedback about their performance. We’ve also heard that many pilot students have been exceptionally motivated learners. I can say from my own teaching experience that the explicit connection between what we’re doing in the classroom and the skills critical for success in law school has made it easy to keep students engaged throughout the semester.”
We have also been in close contact with the pilot instructors at the other campuses and wanted to share the thoughts and reactions of Shannon Fyfe, the pilot instructor at George Mason University:
“My students have learned so much this semester through their participation in the LawReady pilot program. Not only have they had the opportunity to improve their critical thinking skills, but they’ve also been able to tie mastery of these skills directly to their performance on LSAT test questions. This ability to carefully reason will carry my students far beyond the LSAT test and into their careers.”
As we get further along with the pilot and more data becomes available, we will be sure to check back in with more information.