What Data Is Your Bar Review Course Sharing with Your Law School?
It is common practice for major bar review courses to share student data with that student’s law school. Upon information and belief, virtually every company shares information about the percentage of a bar review course that their students have completed. (They do this in different ways — percentage of total assignments completed, or percentage of assignments completed vs. those assigned, etc.).
Is it “bad” that a bar review course shares data with your school?
Not really. There are a few reasons that it is not bad, per se, for a company to share student information with the student’s law school:
- First, everyone is on the same “team.” That is, the student, the bar review course, and the student all want the student to pass! So, everyone’s interests are aligned!
- Second, the law school will often use the data to help the student. If a student is not completing their course, the law school has the opportunity to check in and intervene early. Some schools also offer rewards to students who complete a high percentage of their bar review course.
So, it can be beneficial for a student when their data is shared with their law school.
However, there are also a few concerns with data-sharing:
- First, students don’t necessarily realize that their information is being shared. (We are not sure if all of the major bar review courses include this in their contract. If so, we assume the student doesn’t have any power to opt-out of such data-sharing!)
- Second, course completion is not the end-all, be-all. While completing a course is a good indicator that a student is taking bar prep seriously, not completing a course does not necessarily mean a student isn’t taking bar prep seriously. There are several reasons that a student might not complete a portion of their course. For example:
- Perhaps a student doesn’t watch the Evidence lecture because the student received an “A” grade in Evidence and prefers to spend their time on something else
- Perhaps a student is using released multiple-choice questions instead of the questions invented by their bar review course
- Perhaps a student doesn’t find that all of the assignments actually help them learn the law and prefer to review the material in a different way that is more efficient for the student
- Thus, course completion means something but it does not mean everything. And it may be emphasized a bit too much.
- Finally, sometimes schools will advise students who are not doing well to not take the bar exam. (Not all law schools do this, but it does occur!) Sometimes this is helpful to the student and it gets them on track. Most of the time, however, it just stresses students out.
If a law school pays for bar exam preparation options for its students, then it makes sense that the law school receives the student data that corresponds with the options paid for. After all, the law school is the customer of the company and the students likely realize that their data is being shared and impliedly or explicitly consent to their data being shared. But when a law school is not paying for bar exam preparation for a student, then it makes less sense to us that student data should automatically be shared with the student’s law school.
What is the best approach?
Up until this point, consistent with commercial course practices, we have shared student data regarding the percentage of assignments completed with law schools that have requested such data. However, we think a better approach is to give students a clear choice about whether we share data with their law school. So, we revised our contract to have clear “Yes, share my data” or “No, do not share my data” options. That way, a student that wishes to have their data shared may. And students that want to opt-out may also do that.
(Note this does not apply if the law school is paying for a student’s bar review course. In that case, the student agrees to share data since the law school is the direct client. If the student does not wish to share data, the student may opt out of funding through the law school.)
We also think that “percentage completion” of a course is not the best metric to share and it is perhaps overemphasized by courses. We are not sure what the best metric is or if there is a way to give a clear birdseye view of a student’s progress without focusing solely on the percentage of course assignments that the student has completed. We are still considering this. We would love to hear any thoughts you may have!
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