School & District Management

Why Are There Errors in National Schools Data?

By Sarah D. Sparks — May 16, 2012 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

If you haven’t checked out my colleague Christina Samuels’ story on the data problems with the U.S. News and World Report‘s annual rankings of the best high schools in the country, you really should. Errors in state data reported to the federal Education Department led to inaccurate rankings for three of the U.S. News “best high schools,” and led NCES to conduct a review of all 5,000 schools on that list.

Maintaining data quality in an ever-tighter economic climate is likely to be a hot topic at the upcoming National Forum on Education Statistics in July. At a time when education officials are increasingly dependent on complex student data systems to make policy and instructional decisions, it’s vital that the data are accurate and timely. Yet in the midst of a budget crunch, support for the data systems has been under fire in some states, and most are still working to train the districts in how to correctly collect, report and later use information on their students.

Moreover, states turn over that flood of student information to the federal Common Core of Data, the giant national information warehouse run by the National Center for Education Statistics. The NCES received $108.7 million in fiscal year 2012 for managing all those school data, up about $450,000 from fiscal 2010 but still miniscule in comparison to the $68.12 billion overall discretionary budget for education in fiscal 2011. (President Obama has asked for $114.7 million for the NCES in fiscal 2012.) Of that, NCES Chairman Jack Buckley tells me about $5 million each year goes to the Common Core of Data, though other parts of the Education Department also contribute to data collection costs for CCD and other data, like that for the Office of Civil Rights.

Considering how politically combustible are some of the data states are starting to generate—teacher-student achievement links, anyone?—it will be interesting to see how much support federal and state governments put out to ensure all student data are accurate.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Some Teachers Won't Get Vaccinated, Even With a Mandate. What Should Schools Do About It?
Vaccine requirements for teachers are gaining traction, but the logistics of upholding them are complicated.
9 min read
Illustration of a vaccine, medical equipment, a clock and a calendar with a date marked in red.
School & District Management A Vaccine for Kids Is Coming. 6 Tips for Administering the Shot in Your School
Start planning now, get help, and build enthusiasm. It's harder than it looks.
11 min read
Cole Rodriguez, a 15-year-old student at Topeka West, gets a COVID-19 vaccine Monday, Aug. 9, 2021 at Topeka High School's vaccine clinic.
Cole Rodriguez, a 15-year-old student, gets a COVID-19 vaccine at Topeka High School's vaccine clinic.
Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP
School & District Management Letter to the Editor School Mask Mandates: Pandemic, ‘Panicdemic,’ or Personal?
"A pandemic is based on facts. A 'panicdemic' is based on fears. Today, we have both," writes a professor.
1 min read
School & District Management How 'Vaccine Discrimination' Laws Make It Harder for Schools to Limit COVID Spread
In Montana and Ohio, the unvaccinated are a protected class, making it tough to track and contain outbreaks, school leaders say.
4 min read
Principal and District Superintendent Bonnie Lower takes the temperature of a student at Willow Creek School as the school reopened, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Willow Creek, Mont.
Bonnie Lower, a principal and district superintendent in Willow Creek, Mont., checks the temperature of a student as Willow Creek School reopened for in-person instruction in the spring.
Ryan Berry/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP