Now that Bob Morse at U.S. News is inviting discussion of how one might operationalize diversity as part of the U.S. News law school rankings I want to return to a topic that I've been long interested in: what's the relationship between perceived law school quality and African American student enrollment? One fairly straight-forward way of getting at this is to correlate U.S. News peer assessment scores with African American student enrollment, which is conveniently available in the ABA-LSAC Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools. There's a long story to this, which I have in a paper up on ssrn now. I want to highlight a few things.
First, when looking at the top 26 law schools in U.S. News peer assessment, there's a small and not statisically significant (r = .19, p = .35) correlation between African American student enrollment and peer assessment scores -- that is, as you move up in peer assessment, there is a small corresponding increase in African American student enrollment. The correlation is essentially the same (r = .20) for the top 103 law schools. (I excluded Howard, which is ranked 99 in peer assessment score, from this because I think that historically black law schools like Howard skew the analysis.) At one level this reveals that right now African American student enrollment is positively associated -- though only in a very small way -- with perceived quality for the U.S. News top tier schools.
Second, focusing for a moment on the schools in the top 26, there are some really interesting results. Here is a pdf of the top 26 US News schools in terms of peer assessment with their percentage of African American students and another of the top 26 schools re-ranked according to the percentage of their students who are African American. Pretty interesting to see who's at the top -- Washington University is first, followed by Harvard, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Columbia, Georgetown, and NYU.
Third, focusing now on all the ABA approved schools, here is a list of the top 25 schools in terms of percentage African American student enrollment. It's a pretty interesting list -- headed, of course, by the six historically black law schools. Then Atlanta's John Marshall, Rutgers Newark, Loyola of New Orleans, Cooley, William and Mary, Charlotte, and Washington University. Harvard's in there, too. It's an odd mixture of some of our nation's very most elite schools with some of the easiest to gain admission to, and lots of others in between.
I hope to do some more with this down the road -- and also to expand this to talk about the relationship of Asian American and Hispanic student enrollment and total minority faculty to perceived reputation. I do a very little bit with such data in this draft. Anyway, there's a lot more to say about this; the essay, which I wrote in the wake of St. John's conference on racial diversity and law school admissions, is focused on the data rather than interpretation.