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Differential Trends in Law School Grades of Minority and Non Minority Law Students LSAC

Powers, Donald E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Law School Admission Council (LSAC), Academic Achievement, Black Students, Grades (Scholastic), Law Schools, Mexican Americans, Performance Factors, Racial Differences


Three-year trends in the law averages awarded to nonminority students and to two principal minority groups—Black students and Chicano students--were studied in two sets of law schools that enrolled more than 900 Black students and more than 300 Chicano students. In 18 of 21 law schools, Black students showed greater improvement than White students when third-year grades were compared with first-year grades. In 10 of 21 schools the improvement of Black students was significantly greater, statistically, than that of White students. Chicano students, who generally showed less prior educational disadvantagement than Black students, exhibited differential improvement in six of nine schools, but a statistically significant improvement in only one school. Various reasons for the differential improvements in grades are considered, including statistical artifacts (ceiling and floor effects, changes in criterion reliability, and unequal units of measurement in the grading of minority and nonminority students) and substantive factors such as course selection patterns, differences in the academic demands of each law school year, and support systems available to disadvantaged students. The implications of the findings are discussed for counseling students, for academic dismissal and probation policies, and for the study of effective institutional support services. (35pp.)

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