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Forum Curriculum for Improving Education Data
NCES 2007-808
May 2007

Lesson: Types of Data Errors


Data Steward/Coordinator


This lesson explores the types of errors commonly found in Local Education Agency (LEA) data and their potential consequences for the organization and its students.


  • Define and describe types of data errors and problems.
  • List possible consequences of inaccurate data.

Instructor Preparation

  • Read over the Discussion Scenario and decide whether to use it for your initial discussion or to have participants use one of the discussion starters listed on the discussion starters.
  • Make a copy of each of the following Lesson Resources (which can be found on the column at the top of this page) for each participant.
    • Discussion Scenario
    • Possible Data Errors

Essential Learnings

  • Data errors are of many types and not always easy to spot until after a report is generated.
  • What seems like an error (for example, a large increase in the number of students enrolled in a building from one year to the next) may not be an error, but the result of changes in the circumstances of the LEA (e.g., the opening of a large tract of houses in the building’s attendance area over the previous spring and summer).