California Decides on Bar Exam Cut Score
The California Supreme Court has decided to maintain the required California bar exam pass score of 144.
Above The Law reports that the decision came after the State Bar Board of Trustees “provided the Supreme Court with a set of recommendations for the cut score, ranging from doing absolutely nothing to lowering it to 139.”
The decision has been controversial, particularly because critics have cited the high bar exam cut score as one that unfairly discriminates against minorities. Critics also cite that the state places too much focus on the exam.
According to responses published by The Recorder, a number of law school deans have spoken out against the decision. Jennifer Mnookin is the dean of the UCLA School of Law. Mnookin says a high bar exam cut score doesn’t correlate to higher quality lawyers.
“I, and virtually all my fellow law deans, strongly believe that the current cut score hurts California law students, the diversity of California’s lawyers, and that it has far more costs than benefits to our state as a whole,” she says. “It is absolutely critical to emphasize that our responsibility is not to teach to the test; it is to develop lawyers and leaders in the law. The bar is only one piece of that training, and it’s certainly not the only important one.”
Stephen Ferruolo of University of San Diego expressed similar disappointment.
“The court’s letter provided no justification for keeping the cut score at 1440,” he says. “The data showing the disparate impact that California’s exceptionally high cut score has on underrepresented minorities is clear and compelling.”
ABA Journal reports that out of 8,147 people who sat for the July 2016 California bar, 42.7% (3,481) passed.
To read the Supreme Court letter regarding the decision, click here.
Sources: Above The Law, ABA Journal, The Recorder