The Holloran Center at St. Thomas Law School (MN)—run by Jerry Organ and Neil Hamilton—has created a database of law schools’ efforts to adopt learning outcomes. The center plans to update the database quarterly.
One of the very helpful aspects of the database is that it has coding so that a user can filter by school and by learning outcomes that go above and beyond the ABA minimum. This will be a terrific resource as schools roll out the new ABA standards on learning outcomes. In addition, for those of us interested in assessment as an area of scholarship, it is a treasure trove of data.
Frustratingly, it looks like many schools have decided not to go beyond the minimum competences set forth in ABA Standard 302, what the Holloran Center has categorized as a “basic” set of outcomes. The ABA’s list is far from exhaustive. Schools that have essentially copied-and-pasted from Standard 302 have missed an opportunity to make their learning outcomes uniquely their own by incorporating aspects of their mission that make them distinctive from other schools. Worse, it may be a sign that some schools are being dragged into the world of assessment kicking-and-screaming. On the other hand, it may indicate a lack of training or a belief that the ABA’s minimums fully encapsulate the core learning outcomes that every student should attain. Only time will tell. As schools actually begin to assess their learning outcomes, we’ll have a better idea of how seriously assessment is being taken by law schools.