D. Selected ABA Standards for the Approval of Law Schools 2015-2016

AuthorRebecca Purdom - Greg Brandes - Karen Westwood
Appendix D
Selected ABA Standards for the Approval
of Law Schools 2015-2016
Each year, the ABA updates its standards book to include new or revised standards and interpretations.
The version that is current as of this publication is the standards book for 20152016. In 2014, the ABA
concluded a six-year (2008-2014) comprehensive review of the Standards, and it was “concurred in” by
the ABA House of Delegates in August 2014. These Standards revisions and new standard became
effective on August 12, 2014, at the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting. Sweeping changes,
particularly to chapter 3 related to the core of the educational programming of law schools, will become
effective over the next three years. Publishing outcomes, standards for granting credit, and use of
assessment data in both longitudinal institutional assessment and continuous improvement, were all
outgrowths of these changes.
Below, simply for ease of location and reference, are some of the most important curricular standards and
some others that specifically relate to distance learning. ABA Standards adopted in 2014 are must be
implemented by 2017 per the ABA’s phased implementation plan. Please note the rolling implementation
schedule described in the memo posted on the ABA website from the Managing Director of
Accreditation, Barry Currier. A redlined copy of the standards showing the changes made in 2014 is
available on the ABA Section’s website at
http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/standards.html. The Standards Review
Committee page
(http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/committees/standards_review.html) includes some
of the history of the standards review process.
As noted in Chapter 4 of the main text, the new and revised ABA Standards, together, require law schools
to complete extensive work on learning outcomes, data collection and analysis, reporting, and data-driven
decision making. None of these standards uniquely apply to distance learning programs. To maintain
institutional compliance, data on the JD program at any school will , at a minimum, be required. It is
recommended that institutions collect and analyze data on all programs with significant enrollment within
the law school to comply with Standard 315.
However, distance learning programs will often provide a model for other programs on how to collect and
use data in program evaluation and improvement. By the very nature of well-designed distance learning
curriculums, significant data will be available to the school from formative and summative assessments,
student activity tracking, and overall progress toward objectives. Resources for assessment and analysis
of distance learning program data will still be required, but the availability of rich data on student
achievement characteristic of properly designed online programswill often provide a model for
compliance in other areas of the school.
Learning outcomes for the program of legal education must be published:

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