What Is the Right Verb For Educational Data?

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To the Editor:

It’s very difficult to give much credence to the substance of the Commentary by Suzanne Tacheny and Linda Plattner, ("Giving ‘Data’ Its Own Assessment," May 11, 2005.), when the word “data” is treated as if it were a singular noun, as in “. . . what is data?” The question more correctly is “What are data?”

It is regrettable that not only would the authors, who describe themselves as “data advocates,” make such a grammatical mistake throughout the essay, but that the editors also failed to notice (including in the title of the article).

Concetta Duval
Winchester, Mass.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Education Week stylebook treats the word data as a plural noun, adhering to its original Latin meaning as the plural of datum. In this essay, however, the editors deferred to the authors' preference, which acknowledges the term's common usage in the field as a collective noun referring to many forms of statistical and other achievement-related information collected by schools. Our decision in this instance also acknowledges a growing acceptance of the use of data with a singular verb in the style guides of other publications.

Vol. 24, Issue 38, Page 31

Published in Print: May 25, 2005, as What Is the Right Verb For Educational Data?

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