Last week a California judge issued a preliminary injunction on enforcement of a bill that would ban the LSAC from reporting to law schools when LSAT test takers received extra time on the exam.
At the risk of being redundant, this kind of reporting, often called flagging, is not new for the LSAC. It’s business as usual. When an applicant receives extra time for the LSAT, the LSAC already sends a statement along with the applicant’s score “advising that the applicants score(s) should be interpreted with great sensitivity and flexibility.”
This is something that test takers seeking this accommodation are aware of when they apply for the accommodation; it’s all located on the same page, with clever headings like “additional considerations.”
The injunction was issued in large part because the law banning flagging directly targeted the LSAC: no other standardized testing organization was mentioned (not even the organization that administers the MCAT, which also flags scores).
The singling out of the LSAC aside, there’s a pretty reasonable argument on behalf of continuing to flag LSAT scores. While the specifics aren’t uniform across the spectrum, law school grades are at least in part graded on a curve, meaning students are constantly compared to one another for purposes of determining grades.
The LSAT is not much different, nor should it be. If you buy into the argument that the LSAT is a good indicator of law school success – and law schools do – then maintaining the integrity of the LSAT “curve” is critical to the accuracy of the score.
Sure, there’s the argument that flagging isolates test takers who receive extra time, and that’s correct. But the LSAT, just like law school and much of legal practice is a competition, and if you’re competing under a different set of rules then the people evaluating you based on your score ought to know. In fact, if you’re taking the LSAT with extra time, you’re not just taking it with different rules – the time pressure is essential to the LSAT, so you’re really taking a materially different exam. Harder to argue that this fact shouldn’t be disclosed.
And it’s even harder to argue that you’re being harmed by the disclosure. Law schools are incredibly liberal institutions and aren’t exactly known for discriminating against people with disabilities. Besides, schools really only care about LSAT numbers for reporting to US News and improving their rank, so they don’t care how you got your score so long as it raises their median.
If you’re worried about being treated differently because of your disability, there’s a very easy solution. Just don’t request extra time. If you want to be treated the same, then really be treated the same. Or even better, you can just not take the LSAT, avoid law school, and go do something productive with your life instead. Sure beats complaining that your masochistic career goals aren’t accommodating enough.