Analysis of Differential Prediction of Law School Performance by Gender Based on 2011–2014 Entering Law School Classes (TR 17-02)

Executive Summary

The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has carried out annual predictive validity studies, also called LSAT Correlation Studies, since the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) was first administered. These studies are geared toward evaluating and ensuring the effectiveness and validity of LSAT scores for use in the law school admission process. In conjunction with these predictive validity studies, LSAC also conducts differential validity and differential prediction studies on the LSAT to ensure that the test is fair across gender subgroups. The purpose of this report is to summarize the results of the 2012–2015 LSAT Correlation Studies, which are based on the 2011– 2014 entering law school classes of participating schools, in a differential validity framework. The results presented serve to document and support the validity of LSAT scores for use in the law school admission process.

This study examined results for male and female law students. Data were analyzed from 158 law schools. Validity coefficients and prediction equations using LSAT score with first-year average (FYA), undergraduate grade point average (UGPA) with FYA, and the combination of both LSAT score and UGPA with FYA were calculated and evaluated for each gender subgroup.

Results of analyses indicate that the validity coefficients calculated for each gender subgroup were very similar to one other. In addition, the amount of over- or underprediction for each predictor variable alone and for the combination of both predictor variables in predicting law school FYA was quite small. Still, the combination of both LSAT score and UGPA as predictors provided the least amount of over- or underprediction for both male and female law students compared to the use of either predictor alone. Overall, results do not suggest that the use of LSAT score alone or the combination of LSAT score and UGPA contributes to unfair admission decisions for either male or female law school applicants.

At least two caveats should be remembered when evaluating the results of this study. First, only differences in average predicted performance were analyzed. That is, the performance of individuals within a subgroup whose FYAs are overpredicted on average may still be underpredicted, and vice versa. Second, differential prediction is only one aspect of an overall construct validity evaluation. Other aspects of validity should also be considered when deciding whether the use of any test scores is valid.

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