Saturday, March 16, 2013

About that data-sharing

This came in this week's Commissioner's update:
Update on Shared Learning Collaborative:
ESE is engaged in a number of projects to explore ways that educators can make better use of student data to improve instruction. One of these is the Shared Learning Initiative, involving nine states, several Massachusetts districts (including Everett), the Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, and a recently established non-profit organization named inBloom
. Some of you may have seen recent correspondence from the ACLU of Massachusetts and several other advocacy organizations expressing their concerns over the security and privacy of student data that might ultimately be used as part of this initiative. We believe their concerns are unfounded.

In this project (which is still very much in the research and development stage), participating school districts retain full control over how their confidential student data are used and shared. All organizations involved in the project are committed to full compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and other applicable data privacy and security laws. Commissioner Chester will brief the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
on this project at its March 26 meeting. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson at
Two things:
1. FERPA has been greatly undercut in this Presidential administration.
2. It would seem to me that if, in fact, "participating school districts retain full control over how their confidential student data are used and shared," then we have some policy work to do.

...not to mention, of course, that the central objection--that our students are not "consumers" whose data needs to be collected so the schools can be sold things--is nowhere mentioned here.

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