The Data Quality Canons
School districts use data in countless ways, and data quality issues arise quite
frequently. For example, in a single grading period, one school district dealt with
several ethical concerns related to producing accurate, useful, and timely data:
- The district found itself with disparate sources of free- and reduced-lunch
eligibility data, and administrators realized that the absence of a single,
authoritative source was leading to inconsistent, and even biased, reporting
because one set of data or the other was being used depending on how the
results looked to the person providing the data.
- Standardized test scores appeared to have improved, but the district realized
that it would be wrong to let people assume the results measured improved
academic achievement when, in reality, they probably reflected a change in the
How should staff respond to these situations?
What principles should guide their decisionmaking?