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Monday, November 24, 2014

Who is to Blame for Declining Bar Exam Passage Rates?

Derek Muller argues in this post that the National Council of Bar Examiners (NCBE) may be more to blame than they are willing to admit. From his post:

Despite protests from the National Council of Bar Examiners to the contrary (PDF), it increasingly appears that the NCBE had some role in the decline of Multistate Bar Exam scores and, accordingly, the decline in bar passage rates around the country.
Muller points out declines across the country to support this claim, and notes that even though the students taking the July 2014 bar exam had slightly lower credentials than students in prior years, that does not seem to adequately explain the shifts in scores and pass rates.

Muller's post is worth reading in its entirety, as he addresses many of the explanations that have been offered so far. He ultimately concludes that more information is necessary for an adequate explanation for the decline in scores. I hope that the NCBE takes his (and others') concerns to heart in evaluating their testing methodology.

The bar exam is hard enough as it is, and failing to pass can be a very difficult setback. As more data is released, hopefully an explanation for the decline in scores and pass rates will become clear. And if the NCBE indeed is to blame for even some of this decline, they will hopefully take steps to remedy whatever went wrong during the July 2014 exam.

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