Friday, November 16, 2007

The pluses and minuses of ratings

This is from an editorial in the Stanford paper in response to the new US News and World Report ratings. They discuss pluses and minuses of evaluation schemes. The below example is the plus. The minus is Leave No Child Behind.
Building a Better Legal Profession is a national grassroots movement of law students who hope to create market pressures that will stimulate workplace reform in the nation’s largest private law firms. Although the students of Stanford Law School who spearheaded this movement are a force to be reckoned with, in the litigious environment of modern America, anyone who takes on the task of reforming “big law” is taking on Goliath. So what was the weapon of choice for this organization’s struggle to improve diversity, increase pro bono work and restore a sliver of humanity to the lives of entry-level corporate lawyers? The group created a simple system of arranging available online data about firms. They ranked the firms against one another based on factors such as diversity, and then graded each firm with a letter A through F. Copy, paste and rank. It seems like a simple formula, and it is, yet it has won Building a Better Legal Profession press and praise across the nation. Creating a grading system that ranks law firms based on something other than profits is a neat way of capitalizing on America’s passion for rankings while changing traditional paradigms of prestige.
It would be very hard to do something like this for biology labs because the small numbers of people who work in each lab would reduce the possibility of anonymity. But I like the idea.

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