Tulane probing faulty data

Last week Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News and World Report, wrote on his blog that Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business “had misreported certain data reported to U.S. News.”

According to Morse, the specific data misreported was the average Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores for full-time masters of Business Administration (MBA) students entering the Freeman School in the fall of 2011 and the total number of applicants.

Morse develops the methodologies and surveys for U.S. News’ “Best Colleges” and “Best Graduate Schools” annual rankings. He wrote that Tulane’s misreported figures were used as part of the 2012 and 2013 “Best Business Schools” rankings. The Freeman School ranked 43rd in U.S. News’ 2013 rankings.

“The school also said that these same data points were misreported for the fall 2010 class and possibly in earlier years,” Morse wrote, and that “Tulane said it didn’t know yet what the correct numbers were and how significantly different they were from what was originally reported.”

In a statement released by Tulane, the university said that when it prepared to send the 2012 information, “the data for GMAT scores and the number of applications skewed lower than the previous two years.” According to Tulane’s statement, the “discrepancies were revealed because of new reporting controls that the Freeman School implemented during the academic year, which were used in reporting the 2012 MBA data.”

According to Tulane, the university “immediately engaged a third-party firm to audit the previous years’ data.”

The firm, as detailed in Tulane’s statement, is reviewing the submissions from prior years to determine the nature and extent of any errors made. The firm is also “creating a timeline to reveal how and when these errors were made, and by whom; and determining if further corrective actions, beyond the new reporting controls already in place, should be taken.”

Tulane said it alerted U.S. News & World Report on Dec. 19, and the audit will be completed by mid-January.