Reposted with permission from Missouri Education Watchdog.

Data Cook Book

What to do when a vendor wants to know EVERYTHING about your child but won’t tell you what they are doing with the data?


We have found it difficult, if not impossible, to see who Naviance shares the data with.  Interestingly, we have noticed that Naviance and Hobsons have NOT signed the SIIA pledgeWhy won’t Naviance sign this pledge that promises to not sell student data? [Interesting update, since this posting Hobsons has signed onto the self-policing software industry SIIA pledge.] We did a little digging and found that Hobsons (who owns Naviance) recently bought the Predictive Analytics reporting Framework (PAR)  and they describe themselves here:   We are a non-profit multi-institutional data mining collaborative.

PAR, now part of Hobsons, also affiliated with the Data Cookbook.  Speaking of data mining, this is all tied into IMS Global, whom we wrote about here.

IMS Global

Alrighty then, nice of these folks to admit that they are data miners.  But they collect children’s data, so what exactly are they mining and sharing?

Naviance Personality Test

You will remember we wrote about Naviance who gathers personal information about school children, including personality surveys, hobbies, likes and dislikes,  employment history, and family information and financial, income information via grant applications, scholarship applications, college applications.  We also explained that during the Naviance process, there are many third party vendors who access the data.  In fact, students were asked to waive their FERPA rights while using the Common App through Naviance.  You can read about it here.

We asked Naviance if we could see a list of their third party vendor contracts, what data they get, how they share it. Here is what Naviance said,

“We are legally bound by confidentiality agreements with our third party providers and may not release these contracts.”   – Hobsons  VP of Policy and Advocacy  (see full letter here

* 2017 Update*  Thanks to a new Colorado law, vendors who collect pii student data must provide names of subcontractors and a copy of the data sharing contract.  Hobsons Naviance still has NOT provided contracts, or cited data elements that are shared, but has provided a list of subcontractors.  Please see their March 2017 letter and subcontractor list here.

Hmmm.  So much for transparency and advocacy.  As for asking the school district, they didn’t know either, and actually gave us the contact information to ask Naviance ourselves (who pointed us back to the school district.) Rinse, Repeat.


Naviance seems to be capitalizing on the push to combine school and workforce readiness. In most states, Naviance is started in high school, or even middle school.    But…why leave those elementary kids un-tracked?

Naviance, (Hobsons), has just rolled out their workforce young children program.  See Hobsons’ press release and why they think it is important to start thinking about a career plan in Kindergarten and how schools should “integrate college and career exploration into elementary classrooms. ”

You can see how 10 year old Colorado students are used in this commercial for Naviance in Elementary schools.

What’s next Naviance?  “Workforce for babies”?  Maybe “Workforce in the Womb”?

While we hope that every child can learn ABOUT college and career options —we wonder how much Hobsons, Naviance is learning ABOUT our children.  As Hobsons states, they gather information on students’ “strengths and interests, and learn how, what they’re doing in school…” …”particularly low-income and minority students.”


It must be pretty lucrative because Microsoft just announced that they are getting in on this school-career data gathering business.

Meet Microsoft’s CirkledIn who promises to Capture-Connect-Collaborate-Compile and track kids’ and students’ school life achievements. [and] Share their holistic profile. Starting in pre-school.

No thanks.

We know our kids, we don’t need your  full-time, non-transparent,  data tracking.


-Cheri Kiesecker