The passage rate for Iowans taking the Bar Exam fell 11-percent when compared to the previous year. The country’s average score dropped 4 points. The National Conference of Bar Examiners sent a memo asking law schools to better prepare their students for the test. Drake University Law School associate dean Andrea Charlow says she doesn’t agree that the schools are to blame for a decline in scores.
“I do not believe that the claim of the National Bar Examiners that the problem was that the students were not as good or not as prepared. I don’t believe that claim, it doesn’t make any sense, ” according to Charlow. Charlow says the students who took the exam this year are of similar quality based on their law school admissions test scores or GPA from last year’s students.
She also says the curriculum hasn’t changed. “I do believe what happened this year was an anomaly. It’s too big of a drop, not a big enough change in the quality of students or any difference or any substantial difference in what we teach or how we teach. So that says to me that something else was very wrong,” Charlow says. Charlow says since the NCBE is a private organization, Drake’s law school will not know what went wrong until an objective third party reviews the committee.
The Iowa Supreme Court heard testimony earlier this year on a proposal to allow graduates of the Drake and University of Iowa laws schools to practice law in the state without passing the Bar Exam, but eventually decided to keep the requirement in place.