Challenge Accepted

by James C. Sherlock

I posted a column here based upon government data, specifically the chronic absentee rates of Fredericksburg schools in 2020-21.

The data, not my reporting of it, have been challenged by multiple colleagues as unreliable. They expressed their belief that the data were such outliers that they must have been transcribed improperly by the data entry techs or some other technical issue.

They were so strong in that challenge that the conversation could not move past that point of contention.

My initial reaction to the Fredericksburg data, part of a larger study I am conducting, was doubt as well. So, before publication I re-aggregated them from the individual cohort level at each school and found them internally consistent.

Thus if the data are wrong, they represent an extraordinarily meticulous series of data errors for every racial and gender cohort in each of four schools.

But in response to the challenges of those colleagues, I have taken the article down and submitted it to VDOE for verification of the data and comment.

I expect them to be confirmed.

I will republish the article either way. And we can move on with the conversation either way.