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Your Student’s Privacy

This is a very real issue. We saw a horrifying hand off of student data in Seattle two years ago. See: Should the School District Be Allowed to Give Our Kids’ Phone numbers, Addresses and Photos to Every Tom, Dick and Pollster?

An excerpt:

A number of Seattle Public Schools parents and teachers were recently shocked to read that the private contact information of 10,700 SPS children and 1,400 teachers had been given to a political marketing and polling firm by the school district.

In March, Seattle-based Strategies 360/DMA Marketing used the information to conduct a telephone poll for the Our Schools Coalition, a new organization created by the Alliance for Education. Out of this poll came an online petition. In its “Methodology,” 360/DMA explained that it had surveyed three groups — teachers, parents and voters — and that respondents from the first two groups were randomly selected from lists for each segment provided by Seattle Public Schools.” (This sentence has since disappeared from the petition site.)

Who gave the district permission to share our children’s private information with a marketing firm?

For more on the subject, check out the following article which was originally published, without the sidebars provided at the end of this post, on August 27, 2012 at EducationNews.com and is republished here with permission from the author.

Parents Need to Know About Student Data Privacy

internet-privacy

Trusting Parents

When enrolling or filling out forms during the school year, parents give schools personal information about themselves and their child. A school employee enters the information into the school office computer.  No thought is given to this since computers are a good way to store, organize, and manage data. Most parents don’t realize the data doesn’t stay In the school office computer.  The computer is networked and shares data with other computers. This information or data once it is entered becomes a part of a district or multi-district database that is uploaded to a state longitudinal data system at least once a month.

Are parents informed this is happening with personal information they provide?  Are parents asked permission, or consent, for their information to become part of a database beyond the confines and use of the brick and mortar school?  Should parents be made aware of this practice?  Should they be required to give consent?

State Longitudinal Data Systems, Purposes, and Prohibition

The state longitudinal data systems are for preschool through grade 12 education and post secondary education or P-16.  Basically, states are collecting data on all preschool through grade 16 individuals.  It is interesting to note for the purposes of data collection, the “P” for preschool means birth to school.  They want to collect data from the time of birth through an individual’s career.

Federal legislation calls for the collection of data to include:

  • gender,
  • ethnic or racial groups,
  • limited English proficiency status,
  • migrant students,
  • disabilities,
  • economically disadvantaged,
  • assessment results,
  • demographics,
  • student-level enrollment,
  • program participation,
  • courses completed,
  • student transcript information,
  • transfers, teachers,
  • family income.

Will state longitudinal data systems collect data beyond what is called for in legislation?  What is the purpose of the data collection?  How will it be used?  What will be next?  Collecting prenatal data?  The pre-conception gleam in the eye data?  In addition to the state longitudinal data systems containing far more information on students, parents, and teachers than necessary for educational purposes, I believe the system will eventually include information on all taxpayers with or without kids (twowks) so they may be held adequately accountable for how others spend their hard earned tax dollars.

There has been a push for state longitudinal data systems for many years. As early as 1965, the initial Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) mentions providing support for collecting and storing data and using automated data systems.  Federal legislation and programs encourage or require data collection systems and the development of state longitudinal data systems. These include:

  • Goals 2000
  • Educate America Act
  • Improving America’s Schools Act
  • No Child Left Behind
  • America Competes Act
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Race to the Top.  (see sidebar)

Each state has a State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) and names their SLDS a little differently to suit their own creativity.  As an example, Oregon has Project ALDER:  Advancing Longitudinal Data for Educational Reform and Washington has CEDARS:  Comprehensive Education Data and Research System.

The early stated purposes for data collection was to determine things like graduation rates, job placement rates, and program effectiveness.  The Race to the Top created mandates for data systems to be used to inform decisions and improve instruction.  While this is laudable, it is questionable as the driving need for data collection. An abundance of available data and research findings has been ignored in the reform education decision-making process. Many reform measures being pushed from the federal level on down have no evidence of effectiveness–some have evidence of negative effectiveness — yet continue to be foisted upon the states and local districts to implement.  Are our decision makers Confusing Evidence and Politics?  Do they really have our students’ academic interest as a top priority?  Does anyone know how to make effective decisions based on this information?  Will the information be so overwhelming as to be useless except for cherry picking to support pet programs?  Who will benefit most?  Our students?  Private corporations?  Non-profit corporations?  Individuals and groups in positions of power and authority?

Our society’s moral and ethical values may have slipped to the point that individuals and groups in positions of power and authority feel it is appropriate to publicly release information that most people feel is confidential.  Recently, state officials in Oklahoma posted private educational records of several students online.  This information may not have come from their state longitudinal data system but think of the control and power such information provides, especially if one is able to personally identify individuals.  When big brother has the informational goods on the public, are people likely to speak up or will they maintain a cautious place in line?

There is a prohibition on the development of a nationwide database of personally identifiable information (PII).  The Act that created No Child Left Behind says:

PROHIBITION ON NATIONWIDE DATABASE

‘‘Nothing in this Act (other than section 1308(b)) shall be construed to authorize the development of a nationwide database of personally identifiable information on individuals involved in studies or other collections of data under this Act. 20 USC 7911.

Does that mean it is okay to develop a nationwide database provided no personally identifiable information is used?  It appears the federal government is dancing around the issue of developing a nationwide database.  While the federal government is not developing it, they are supporting, promoting, encouraging, and funding with tax dollars the development of state longitudinal data systems.  An effort, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) is well underway, with federal encouragement, to have the state longitudinal data systems compatible for data sharing between and among states.  This effort will result in a defacto nationwide database.

The Data Quality Campaign’s report Data for Action 2011 Empower with Data indicates no states having all 10 Essential Elements of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems in place in 2005.  In 2011 every state had at least 7 of the 10 Elements in place and thirty-six states had all 10 Elements in place.

The Data Quality Campaign lists the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) among its Partners.  The NGA and the CCSSO joined efforts in an initiative to develop the Common Core State Standards and shares some of the same partners.  Both the Data Quality Campaign and Common Core State Standards Initiative have been supported with grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (see 1, 2, 3).  The Common Core State Standards has provided investors and entrepreneurs with a lucrative market place.  Besides the technology industry and service industry, who stands to financially gain from the Data Quality Campaign and the state longitudinal data systems?

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) are working to Promote the Voluntary Adoption of a Model of Common Data Standards and say:

The U.S. Department of Education will facilitate the leveraging, and where needed, the development of model common data standards for a core set of student-level variables to increase comparability of data, interoperability and portability of data, and reduce collection burden.

Funding for State Longitudinal Data Systems

Leveraging Federal Funding for Longitudinal Data Systems – A Roadmap for States shows some federal programs encouraging states to use funds for longitudinal data systems.  These programs include Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grants Program, Race to the Top, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C, Carl D. Perkins and Technical Education Act of 2006, Title I, Teacher Incentive Fund, Striving Readers Program, Child Care and Development Block Grant, Workforce Data Quality Initiative, Workforce Innovation Fund, and the Workforce Investment Act.

It is difficult to determine how much taxpayer money states have spent on longitudinal data systems.  As indicated above, there are numerous sources of funds available.  The Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grants Program does show how much grant money has been awarded to each state from their program.  Since 2006 over $612 million has been awarded with $254 million of that in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus) funds.  Information from this program’s website has been compiled into a table showing amounts each state has been awarded.

Personally Identifiable Information, Data Mining and Matching, and Security Breaches

State longitudinal data systems are not to permit students to be individually identified by users of the system.  What about abusers of the system?  Data from state longitudinal data systems can be matched with data from other databases enabling the identification of individuals no matter how much effort is put into keeping personally identifiable information (PII) out of the state longitudinal data systems.  Records can be matched by identifying overlapping data.

With the ability to match data enabling the identification of individuals it is reasonable to think this data may find its way into the hands of data brokers and database marketers like Acxiom Corporation who may mine, analyze, refine, and sell the data.  While we may laugh at the Ordering Pizza in 2015 video, it hits real close to reality.

Eventually, whether for sport, competition, or profit, hackers will compromise the state longitudinal data systems.  Perhaps they already have been exploiting these systems and the public and parents are never informed it is taking place.  Below is a notice that I have written and which I believe should be provided to parents and all of the media.  For obvious reasons it never will.

We have discovered that our state longitudinal data system servers were attacked, resulting in a security breach. The hackers were able to access information on all students, parents and teachers in the state. Our team has worked to secure the state longitudinal data system against this type of attack from recurring.

Please understand that we are under no obligation to inform you that sensitive data about the students, parents, and teachers in the state has been accessed and copied by unauthorized and unknown individuals.  Since our data system contains no personally identifiable information you should comfortably know we assume no liability for any damages resulting from the hacker’s ability to personally identify individuals by matching overlapping information with other database information for which we have no control.

We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience. Should you find the consequences of this security breach to be devastating to your life, we suggest you consider assuming another identity and start a new life.  Should you wish to exercise this option, for a fee we can assist you in this effort.  We take the security of our data seriously and can assure you we are taking measures to protect the system from this kind of breach until it happens again, at which time we will simply send you another message similar to this one reassuring you there is nothing to be concerned about.

J.R. Wilson

J.R. Wilson is a parent and an education advocate with 25+ years experience in public education as an elementary teacher, curriculum consultant, staff development coordinator, and principal.

References

A Blueprint for Reform The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, United States Department of Education, March 2010

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/blueprint/blueprint.pdf

A Statement of Common Purpose:  Chief State School Officers and State Higher Education Executives Promote the Voluntary Adoption of a Model of Common Data Standards

http://www.pesc.org/library/docs/Common%20Data%20Standards/1-CDS-StatementofPurpose.pdf

“America COMPETES Act’’ or the ‘‘America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act” of 2007

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-110s761es/pdf/BILLS-110s761es.pdf

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ5/pdf/PLAW-111publ5.pdf

CEDARS:  Comprehensive Education Data and Research System

http://www.k12.wa.us/CEDARS/default.aspx

Confusing Evidence and Politics, Jay P. Greene’s Blog

http://jaypgreene.com/2012/08/13/confusing-evidence-and-politics/

Data for Action 2011 Empower with Data, Data Quality Campaign

http://dataqualitycampaign.org/files/DFA2011%20Annual%20Report.pdf

Data Cleaning: Problems and Current Approaches

http://wwwiti.cs.uni-magdeburg.de/iti_db/lehre/dw/paper/data_cleaning.pdf

Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (P.L. 89-10)

Page 49 of Public Law 89-10  April 11, 1965

http://www.nctic1p.org/files/40646763.pdf

Goals 2000: Educate America Act (P.L. 103-227) MAR. 31, 1994

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-103hr1804enr/pdf/BILLS-103hr1804enr.pdf

Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-103hr6enr/pdf/BILLS-103hr6enr.pdf

Leveraging Federal Funding for Longitudinal Data Systems – A Roadmap for States

http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/resources/fedfunding/

Project ALDER:  Advancing Longitudinal Data for Educational Reform

http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=3414

PUBLIC LAW 107–110—JAN. 8, 2002, An Act To close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ110/pdf/PLAW-107publ110.pdf

Race to the Top

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/fact-sheet-race-top

You for Sale: Mapping, and Sharing, the Consumer Genome

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/technology/acxiom-the-quiet-giant-of-consumer-database-marketing.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&hp

Sidebars:

First Sidebar

Select Legislative and Program Encouragement and Requirements for State Longitudinal Data Systems

There has been a push for these longitudinal data systems for many years.  The 1965 Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (P.L. 89-10) in Section 503 (a) on page 49 says:

(2) providing support or services for the comprehensive and compatible recording, collecting, processing, analyzing, interpreting, storing, retrieving, and reporting of State and local educational data, including the use of automated data systems;

The Goals 2000: Educate America Act in 1994 says:

(d) DATA COLLECTION SYSTEM.—In the development and design of a system to provide data on graduation or completion rates, job placement rates from occupationally specific programs, licensing rates, and awards of high school graduate equivalency diplomas (GED), each State board for higher education shall develop a data collection system the results of which can be integrated into the occupational information system developed under this section.

Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994, which was a reauthorization of ESEA, says:

(v) provides for the collection of data on the achievement and assessment results of students disaggregated by gender, major ethnic or racial groups, limited English proficiency status, migrant students, and by children with disabilities as compared to other students, and by economically disadvantaged students as compared to students who are not economically disadvantaged;

and

(1) INGENERAL.—The Secretary may collect such data, as necessary, at the State, local, and school levels and conduct studies and evaluations, including national studies and evaluations, to assess on an ongoing basis the effectiveness of programs under this title and to report on such effectiveness on a periodic basis.

PUBLIC LAW 107–110—JAN. 8, 2002, An Act To close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind says:

B) USE OF ASSESSMENTS.—Each State educational agency may incorporate the data from the assessments under this paragraph into a State-developed longitudinal data system that links student test scores, length of enrollment, and graduation records over time.

‘‘(D) DATA.—A local educational agency or school shall only include in its annual local educational agency report card data that are sufficient to yield statistically reliable information, as determined by the State, and that do not reveal personally identifiable information about an individual student.

SEC. 9531. PROHIBITION ON NATIONWIDE DATABASE.

‘‘Nothing in this Act (other than section 1308(b)) shall be construed to authorize the development of a nationwide database of personally identifiable information on individuals involved in studies or other collections of data under this Act. 20 USC 7911.

“America COMPETES Act’’ or the ‘‘America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act” of 2007

(2) GRANTS FOR STATE WIDE P–16 EDUCATION DATA SYSTEMS.—

(A) ESTABLISHMENT OF SYSTEM.—Each State that receives a grant under subsection (c)(2) shall establish a statewide P–16 education longitudinal data system that— (i) provides each student, upon enrollment in a public elementary school or secondary school in the State, with a unique identifier, such as a bar code, that— (I) does not permit a student to be individually identified by users of the system; and (II) is retained throughout the student’s enrollment in P–16 education in the State; and (ii) meets the requirements of sub-paragraphs (B) through (E).

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

(3) IMPROVING COLLECTION AND USE OF DATA.—The State will establish a longitudinal data system that includes the elements described in section 6401(e)(2)(D) of the America COMPETES Act (20 U.S.C. 9871).

(D) REQUIRED ELEMENTS OF A STATE- WIDE P–16 EDUCATION DATA SYSTEM.—The State shall ensure that the statewide P–16 education data system includes the following elements: (i) PRESCHOOL THROUGH GRADE 12 EDUCATION AND POST SECONDARY EDUCATION.—With respect to preschool through grade 12 education and postsecondary education— (I) a unique statewide student identifier that does not permit a student to be individually identified by users of the system; (II) student-level enrollment, demographic, and program participation information; (III) student-level information about the points at which students exit, transfer in, transfer out, drop out, or complete P–16 education programs; (IV) the capacity to communicate with higher education data systems; and  (V) a State data audit system assessing data quality, validity, and reliability. (ii) PRESCHOOLTHROUGHGRADE12 EDUCATION.—With respect to preschool through grade 12 education— (I) yearly test records of individual students with respect to assessments under section 1111(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)); (II) information on students not tested by grade and subject; (III) a teacher identifier system with the ability to match teachers to students; (IV) student-level transcript information, including information on courses completed and grades earned; and (V) student-level college readiness test scores.

The Race to the Top emphasized:

Supporting data systems that inform decisions and improve instruction, by fully implementing a statewide longitudinal data system, assessing and using data to drive instruction, and making data more accessible to key stakeholders.

A Blueprint for Reform The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, United States Department of Education, March 2010

To foster public accountability for results and help focus improvement and support efforts, states must have data systems in place to gather information that is critical to determining how schools and districts are progressing in preparing students to graduate from high school college- and career-ready. States and districts will collect and make public data relating to student academic achievement and growth in English language arts and mathematics, student academic achievement in science, and if states choose, student academic achievement and growth in other subjects, such as history. At the high school level, this data will also include graduation rates, college enrollment rates, and rates of college enrollment without need for remediation. All of these data must be disaggregated by race, gender, ethnicity, disability status, English Learner status, and family income. States and districts also will collect other key information about teaching and learning conditions, including information on school climate such as student, teacher and school leader attendance; disciplinary incidents; or student, parent, or school staff surveys about their school experience.

State-level data systems that link information on teacher and principal preparation programs to the job placement, student growth, and retention outcomes of their graduates.

Second Sidebar

Data Quality Campaign

10 Essential Elements of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems

  • A unique statewide student identifier that connects student data across key databases across years
  • Student-level enrollment, demographic, and program participation information
  • The ability to match individual students’ test records from year to year to measure academic growth
  • Information on untested students and the reasons they were not tested
  • A teacher identifier system with the ability to match teachers to students
  • Student-level transcript information, including information on courses completed and grades earned
  • Student-level college readiness test scores
  • Student-level graduation and dropout data
  • The ability to match student records between the preK-12 and higher education systems
  •  A state data audit system assessing data quality, validity and reliability

10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Data Use

  • Link state K-12 educational data systems with early learning, postsecondary education, workforce, social services and other critical agencies
  • Create stable, sustained support for robust state longitudinal data systems
  • Develop governance structures to guide data collection, sharing, and use
  • Build state data repositories (e.g., data warehouses) that integrate student, staff, financial, and facility data
  • Implement systems to provide all stakeholders with timely access to the information they need while protecting student privacy
  • Create progress reports with individual student data that provide information educators, parents, and students can use to improve student performance
  • Create reports that include longitudinal statistics on school systems and groups of students to guide school-, district-, and state-level improvement efforts
  • Develop a purposeful research agenda and collaborate with universities, researchers, and intermediary groups to explore the data for useful information
  • Implement policies and promote practices, including professional development and credentialing, to ensure educators know how to access, analyze, and use data appropriately
  •   Promote strategies to raise awareness of available data and ensure that all key stakeholders, including state policymakers, know how to access, analyze, and use the information

Data for Action 2011 Empower with Data, Data Quality Campaign

http://dataqualitycampaign.org/files/DFA2011%20Annual%20Report.pdf

States make gains in building data systems

http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/02/21/states-make-gains-in-building-data-systems/

One comment on “Your Student’s Privacy

  1. Pingback: Schools Are Sharing Private Information Via SLDS and P-20 State/Federal Systems « COMMON CORE

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