The Florida Supreme Court this week released February’s Florida Bar exam results revealing that 16 out of 22 University of Florida Levin College of Law graduates passed the test, a February passage rate of 72.7 percent. The small number of test takers had little impact on UF Law’s bar passage rate for the year, which at 89.9 percent ties with one other law school as the highest in Florida.
UF Law Dean Robert Jerry said he is proud of UF Law’s annual performance and points out that February’s small sample sizes can be misleading. He noted that UF Law is consistently among the top schools in the state when the handful of UF Law February results are combined for an annual average with the hundreds of UF Law July test takers. (For more details, see the Dean’s Message at http://tinyurl.com/bmtjtfz.)
“I’m always surprised how results on the spring bar exam are sometimes described since so few graduates take the February test compared to the July test. Any mathematician knows the law of small numbers makes these results highly unreliable as a basis for comparing schools,” said Jerry. “I am particularly disappointed that publicity tends to stress percentages rather than numbers, since that gives underserved validity to the results by implying that similar numbers of test-takers participate in the February and July exams.”
To ensure consistency in evaluating bar exam performance, Jerry recommends that February and July exam results in the same year be combined to ensure accurate class-by-class comparisons. These results are what the American Bar Association asks law schools to report for accreditation purposes.
“Frankly, it’s like evaluating how well a baseball player hits in a 162-game season by only counting his at-bats in 10 games,” Jerry said. “That’s essentially what it is like to look at the February bar results in isolation.”
And overall, Jerry is happy with UF Law’s recent “seasons,” which put the school’s annual bar passage rate in first place among Florida law schools two out of the last three years, and second place the other year.
“Numerical analysis can be a helpful tool when evaluating the quality and progress of a school,” said Jerry. “But it is only one tool among many, and great care must be taken to understand the origin and context of any numbers used, particularly in rankings such as U.S. News and World Report, and to realize that numbers alone will never convey the true value of any institution.”
For more information:
Matt Walker, UF Law Communications
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