State Auditor concerned with accuracy of education data

State Auditor concerned with accuracy of education data

MOSELLE, Miss. (WDAM) - Inaccurate education data for the magnolia state, that’s according to a new report from the state auditor’s office.

State Auditor Shad White tells WDAM that some school districts may have provided attendance data that may contain errors, and sometimes the Mississippi Department of Education doesn’t verify it.

“Schools will count a student as being present in one piece of software and then on the same day, in a different piece of software, count them absent, so clearly there’s some problems there,” White said.

He says student attendance numbers determine funding for school districts.

“If somebody is inflating the attendance numbers, then maybe inflating the amount of money they should get,” White said. “Some of them, frankly, just through not knowing how to work the system or maybe having one incompetent person in there, they may be deflating the numbers. So, they may be owed more money from the state than they’re actually getting.”

White says he understands tracking attendance during this pandemic may be difficult but hopes addressing this problem now will help in the future.

“Hopefully next year, when life goes back to normal that the schools are prepared to have better attendance tracking mechanisms so that when those numbers really do matter a whole lot that they’re funding does get cut because of it or that they’re not getting more funding than they deserve because of it,” White said.

He says the MDE should conduct an internal audit to ensure attendance data is correct.

“What you want is for them to do the right thing so that the school districts don’t get hurt at the end of it and sometimes that just happens naturally and sometimes you have to push a little bit and so this has been a month of pushing a little bit,” White said.

White says any school districts with concerns can call his office hotline at 1-800-321-1275.

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