NPR finds national school shooting data is incorrect

A spring report from the U.S. Education Department states that between 2015 – 2016, nearly 240 schools reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting. But when NPR started looking into the reports, they found data that suggested otherwise.

Assisted by Child Trends, a non-profit and non-partisan research agency, NPR analyzed the data and found only 11 reported incidents, “either directly with schools or through media reports.”

161 of the cases didn’t actually happen at all, according to the school districts, yet somehow it was reported there was a school-related shooting.

Here’s a chart NPR put together showing the misrepresented data.

They also looked into other data from sources like Everytown and the Civil Rights Data Collection and found their findings were also different from what the United States Department of Education had and many didn’t even overlap.

It’s pretty troubling that the data doesn’t seem to match anywhere and that it also seems to be inflated by the official government report. Even more troubling is that many of these incidents never happened and it’s being reported that a school shooting took place when, in fact, it didn’t.

Many school officials believe responses to the survey from the United States Department of Education were coded incorrectly.
NPR says that “after we contacted the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified district” where four school shootings were listed as taking place but never happened, about the four reported “the district emailed the Office for Civil Rights to try to correct the information.”

The CRDC responded by saying, “The CRDC accepts correction requests for up to one year from the moment the submission period opens. For the 2015-16 collection, the corrections period closed on June 30, 2018, and for this reason your data correction request cannot be accepted. However, a data note will be included on the data file to ensure users are aware of the errors you are reporting.”

People look to this kind of data to create and advocate for gun control policies. Having incorrect or inflated data is not helpful. In a time when Second Amendment rights are under the microscope and parents, educators and lawmakers are looking for solutions, we need consistent information.



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