School & District Management News in Brief

One School’s Bad Data Skew National Absenteeism Ratings

By Evie Blad — January 15, 2019 1 min read

Flawed data on student absences from one Maryland school district has skewed a national analysis. When the error was corrected and the analysis revised, the state dropped from having the highest rate of chronic absenteeism in the country to having the 10th highest rate.

The correction comes as schools nationwide adjust to new requirements created by the Every Student Succeeds Act, to report chronic absenteeism.

The analysis, by Attendance Works and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, relied on data reported by districts to the U.S. Department of Education.

Prince George’s County, Md., incorrectly reported that in the 2015-16 school year, around 80 percent of all students were chronically absent, an unusually high rate first noticed by reporter Liz Bowie at the Baltimore Sun. Upon review, the report’s authors found the mistake.

Because the district is large and predominately black, correcting the error changed both the state rankings in the analysis and the national figures for black students’ rates of absenteeism.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 16, 2019 edition of Education Week as One School’s Bad Data Skew National Absenteeism Ratings

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