Beware, SAT Season is Here

Many school districts in the state of Washington administer the SAT to all of their 10th or 11th grade students.  School districts in other states may do the same.  Check your school and district calendars for SAT administration dates if it is administered at your local high schools.

Unwittingly, the majority of students provide personal information to the College Board that they don’t need to provide. It is supposed to be voluntary but students may not realize that or they don’t give any thought to what may be done with the information they provide. It is possible they are duped into providing this information.

Students may be asked to provide their social security number, religious affiliation, citizenship, family income, ethnicity, and other information that is not required in order to take the test.

The College Board eventually sells the student data they collect.

For more information read the Washington Post’s What your child needs to know before taking the SAT and ACT. This is also on the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy website.

I wonder if school administrators and school board members really know what information students are being asked to provide. If they really knew and cared, I would hope they would do something to stop this practice of data collection and protect student privacy. I wonder if taxpayers would support the administration of these tests in our schools if they knew the extent of the data being collected and that the College Board sells it.

The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy has a SAT Pre-Test checklist.

  1. On Thursday or Friday, talk to your children about the importance of providing only the personal information necessary to take the test, and show them the SAT’s Student Search Service ™ screenshot below so they know what it might look like and which box to select (No, thanks.);
  2. Encourage them to go to bed early Friday night, get plenty of rest, and set the alarm (AM, not PM!);
  3. Serve a nutritious breakfast Saturday morning to your children and remind them to bring a photo ID, the “admission ticket,” NO. 2 pencils and an acceptable calculator from the College Board’s Test Day checklist;
  4. Remind them NOT to volunteer any personal information other than what is required like name, address, school, date of birth, etc., and that there is no reason to offer up their Social Security number, religious affiliation, family income, or other extraneous information. They should also CHECK the “No, thanks” box if there is one in the Student Search Service ™ section.
  5. Reassure them to relax and just do their best on the exam itself.

The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy also has Five Principles to Protect Student Privacy that you may want to become familiar with.

This article is being re-posted here with permission from The Underground Parent.

Five Reasons to Oppose NCES Participation in the Int’l Early Learning Study

Karen Effrem uncovered yet another governmental threat to the privacy of young children and their families – the National Center for Education Statistics’ proposed participation in an International Early Learning Study. Below is the comment on this proposal, submitted to the Federal Register by APP:

American Principles Project (APP) submits this comment in opposition to a proposal by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in conducting the International Early Learning Study (IELS).

As outlined in FR Doc No: 2016-29749, the IELS will focus on “young children and their cognitive and non-cognitive skills and competencies as they transition to primary school,” examining their “social emotional skills as well as cognitive skills; the relationship between children’s early learning and children’s participation in early childhood education and care (ECEC); [and] the role of contextual factors, including children’s individual characteristics and their home backgrounds and experiences, in promoting children’s growth and development . . . .”

In other words, through NCES the federal government intends to compile data about young children’s most personal and sensitive characteristics – their personalities and their “social emotional” development. APP opposes federal participation in this project for the reasons outlined below.

First, the federal government has no constitutional or statutory authority to engage in this research. The Constitution places all responsibility for education with the states and the people, not with the federal government. Especially objectionable is the federal government’s assumption of authority to examine – and perhaps set standards and norms for – young children’s attitudes, mindsets, dispositions, and values. It is difficult to imagine a more inappropriate use of any government resources, much less federal resources.

Second, this proposed study wastes yet more taxpayer money on something (government preschool) that has already been determined, in multiple studies, to be either useless or even harmful to children in the long run.

Third, experts in child development and mental health have warned that such standards and assessments of young children are highly subjective, especially when implemented by untrained teachers. Even worse is the possibility – or probability – that these unreliable assessments will be included in children’s permanent dossiers that are maintained in the state longitudinal databases (creation of which was incentivized by the federal government).

Fourth, participation in this international study, with its resulting compilation of highly personal student data, will threaten the privacy of young children and their families. The regulatory gutting of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) means that personally identifiable student data can now be disclosed to almost anyone in the world if the disclosure is rationalized by “evaluation” of an “education program.” So the unreliable assessments of children’s social and emotional states can be made available to an international organization (and presumably to agencies in the other participating countries) without even providing notice to parents, much less obtaining their consent. The inappropriateness of this should be self-evident.

Fifth, the federal government has proven itself incapable of securing the education data it already has. In late 2015 a hearing of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform revealed the shocking lack of student-data security throughout the U.S. Department of Education (USED). The problems encompass both lax controls over the people allowed access to sensitive data, as well as outdated technology and inadequate security to prevent unauthorized access.

The findings of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the General Accounting Office illustrate why the federal government should not get its hands on any additional student data, especially such sensitive data as would be reported by the IELS:

  • Of the 97,000 account/users with access to student information (government employees and contractors), fewer than 20 percent have undergone a background check to receive a security clearance.
  • The security mechanisms protecting that data are grossly inadequate. As one OIG witness testified, “During our testing . . . OIG testers were able to gain full access to the Department’s network and our access went undetected by Dell [the vendor] and the Department’s Office of the Chief Information Officer.”
  • USED ignored repeated warnings from OIG that its information systems are vulnerable to security threats.

That the federal government should now consider adding to its data warehouse the extremely sensitive data of young children and their families is the height of arrogance and recklessness.

And finally, if data-security is this bad in the U.S. federal bureaucracy, it may be as bad or even worse in the other countries with which the data might be shared. American citizens should not have to worry that their children’s most personal data is circulating around the globe, with perhaps minimal protection.

For these reasons APP opposes participation by NCES in the International Early Learning Study and urges the new Administration to cancel this project.

Protecting Privacy at the Expense of Privacy

When we think of children, the first thing that comes to mind is their protection; protection from known risks, protection from violence, drunk drivers, illness, and the likes of Madonna and Ashley Judd.  In the age of internet-everything we want kids to be safe from exposure to pornography and child predators who spy on children without our knowledge.  When we’re not with them, we want to find a place where they will be safe and we can feel comfortable they’re under the watchful eye of people who also want to protect them.

Many parents think of school as that place.  We anticipate teachers are concerned for our children’s well-being, Madonna and Ashley Judd won’t be invited for career day, and there wouldn’t be porn or internet stalkers (because we know schools wouldn’t let internet stalkers spy on our kids).

What could go wrong?  How about everything?

As technology has become more deeply embedded in school culture, student level data is being gathered at an accelerated rate.  Tech companies are being given nearly unfettered access to student information via 1:1 devices, online resources and apps used by teachers in classrooms, digital textbooks, and the expansion of adaptive/personalized learning.  Every keystroke, every search term, every bookmark, every internet site, every log-in to a standardized test, is gobbled up, chewed, and swallowed by Big Data.

The proliferation of technology in classrooms has created serious concerns about the glut of data streaming out of classrooms and into the possession of multi-billion dollar corporations.  Google, which has flooded classrooms with Chromebooks, has consistently been the subject of a myriad of litigation involving abusive privacy practices such as intercepting email communications, scanning email for the purposes of targeted advertising, and collecting and data mining children’s personal preferences. A class action filed in March 2016, alleges illegal collection and use of biometric information.  Hello there, creepy internet stalker!

In 2015, Congress passed the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  However, the bill signed by President Obama failed to either include student data privacy protections or close the loopholes in existing federal law.

In response to mounting evidence of misuse of student data, privacy violations and data breaches, the Software and Information Industry Association and the Future of Privacy Forum collaborated to produce the Student Privacy Pledge, a voluntary effort to commit student service providers to good privacy practices regarding their collection and use of student data.  Since its release in 2014, more than 300 companies have signed the pledge which contains specific prohibitions on selling personal information, and creating student profiles for behavioral targeted advertising.  The pledge was intended to offer reassurances that Google wouldn’t use information about children to inundate them with advertisements.

Since then, many states have adopted legislation to place similar restrictions on how tech companies can use, store, and share student data as it relates to targeted advertising.  Most of the new privacy laws are spearheaded by lobbyists for big data, i.e., Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, and merely codify the Student Privacy Pledge.  If you’re scratching your head wondering why Google, et al, would support legislation limiting their share of what some say will be a $59 billion industry by 2018, ponder no longer.

The Student Privacy Pledge only applies to targeted advertising and states:

“Nothing in this pledge is intended to prohibit the use of student personal information for purposes of adaptive learning or customized education.”

To date, all privacy legislation contains the same or similar language, which means those creepy internet stalkers from whom children need protection get a free pass.  The statutory language carves out an exception that allows service providers to gather student Personally Identifiable Information (PII), for use in digital learning programs.  They just can’t try to sell kids a Happy Meal based web on their browsing habits.

Parents need to know the definition of PII; any data that directly, or in combination with other data, identifies an individual or student, but they also need to understand the breadth of the definition.

For example, privacy statutes and pending bills (see New Hampshire, Oregon, California, Georgia, Arkansas, Maine, Connecticut, Idaho, Delaware, Kansas, and Nevada), define PII as data:

“…including, but not limited to, information in the student’s educational record or email, first and last name, home address, date of birth, telephone number, unique pupil identifier, social security number, financial or insurance account numbers, email address, other information that allows  physical or online contact, discipline records, test results, special education data, juvenile dependency records, grades, evaluations, criminal records, medical records, health records, biometric information, disabilities, socioeconomic information, food purchases, political affiliations, religious information, text messages, documents, other student identifiers, search activity, photos, voice recordings, or geo-location information.”

Biometric information is the measurement of people’s physical and behavioral characteristics.  It can include fingerprints, DNA, face, hand, and ear features, as well as typing rhythm, gait, voice recordings, iris scans, and gestures.  Biometric information has been used by schools to track such things as attendance and food purchases.  However, in 2014, Florida became the first state to ban schools from collecting student biometric data.

Nothing, however, prohibits the use of our children’s fingerprints, DNA, heart rate, or iris scans by multi-billion dollar corporations.  And nothing prevents private corporations from taking this information from students without parental consent.  At a time when aspirin can’t be dispensed to a student without a signed release, a parent’s authority to protect their child from invasive surveillance is non-existent.

Current online data privacy legislation is a ruse.  It ultimately protects very little and makes vulnerable some of the most sensitive, private characteristics of our children.  Parental authority is usurped, student privacy is eroded, and tech giants gather PII under the guise of building educational tools, none of which require biometric information to function.  Personally, I think I’d rather have Google try to sell my child a Happy Meal.

The Pitfalls of Educational Gaming

Sony is already working on VR tech for Playstation. Educational gaming won’t be far behind.
Photo credit: Marco Verch (CC-By-2.0)

We wrote recently about deep concerns with so-called “personalized learning,” which is destined to create algorithms on individual students that may – for good or ill — direct the rest of their lives. But digital personalized learning could go beyond measuring and evaluating students’ performance and actually change their attitudes, mindsets, and opinions. Children will stop being who they are and become the people the government wants them to be.

One area of personalized learning already becoming entrenched in schools is video gaming. Gurus of educational gaming claim it can change the world, by changing students’ brains. This is presented as a good thing.

In a TED talk from 2010, Jane McGonigle from the Institute for the Future explained how gaming can accomplish this lofty but disturbing goal. McGonigle touted the benefits of immersing students in virtual reality (VR) so that they begin to behave in their real lives the same way they behave in the game. For example, McGonigle cited a game called A World Without Oil, in which players adapt their actions to the absence of fossil fuels. The longer they play this game, she claims, the more they’ll start to model the same behavior in real life. See how this works?

Another prominent advocate of educational gaming is Dr. James Gee of Arizona State University. Gee (who frets continually about global warming, relabeled “climate change” during snowstorms) is quite open about using gaming to change society by changing the mindsets of students. Like McGonigle, he wants students to invest thousands of hours in gaming so that, for them, the difference between virtual reality and, well, reality, disappears.

And Gee recognizes the added benefit of accomplishing this by stealth. From an interview he gave in 2014:

We keep talking about schools and teachers, because we do not want to talk about society, ourselves, and the craven way we empower the rich, corporations, and rampant Social Darwinism. We cannot change our society in one fell swoop. Sneak in, move quietly, attack unseen, put away the suit – be a snake.

Perhaps Gee’s disdain for telling parents what’s happening stems from his education worldview, which values students not as individuals whose God-given potential is to be developed, but as agents to advance his preferred agenda:

We need collective intelligence where we view humans, in mind and body, as plug and play devices that get smart only when they are plugged into good tools, good people, and good practices in the service of pooling knowledge and diversity to make the world a better place.

What constitutes “good” tools, people, and practices and a “better” world is apparently to be determined by ideologues such as Dr. James Gee. And the idea of actually learning an academic discipline is passe’. As he says, “[With gaming,] you are not learning a discipline, you are learning multiple skills, social and emotional intelligence, collective intelligence.”

The United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) is also excited about the world-changing potential of educational gaming. Promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, UNESCO lauds gaming as an “innovative pedagogy” that can educate students “for sustainable development, peace and global citizenship.”

UNESCO cites researchers who report that “the act of playing video games can change the structure and composition of the brain,” which could make it easier to get students to accept what UNESCO preaches. The organization’s 2014 International Gaming Challenge solicited new games “incorporating themes related to peace and sustainability, including alternative energy, climate change, culture, social issues, gender, consumerism, the impact of corporations, education and global citizenship.” Sounds like the Democratic Party platform, doesn’t it?

The next step in educational VR is wearable devices for students. Many schools already use devices to track physiological data, such as heart rates in P.E. classes (perhaps without telling parents). But according to the New Media Consortium, schools are only a few years away from adopting more sophisticated VR headsets (such as the Rift headset from Facebook subsidiary Oculus) that immerse students in an alternate universe.

Though attractions of this technology are obvious, such as the ability to “transport” art students to the Louvre to study the paintings, the dangers are only now beginning to be publicized. According to an article in theintercept.com, “the very systems that enable immersive experiences are already establishing new forms of shockingly intimate surveillance.”

Researchers warn that “the psychological aspects of digital embodiment – combined with the troves of data that consumer VR products can freely mine from our bodies, like head movements and facial expressions – will give corporations and governments unprecedented insight and power over our emotions and physical behavior.” A VR company in Louisiana, for example, claims its product can determine the user’s emotional state by tracking movements of his eyes and facial muscles. Researchers predict that VR systems will ultimately create “kinematic fingerprints” that “could be used to uniquely identify and analyze a person based on their [sic] body movements and posture . . . .”

Even more troubling is the potential of VR technology to alter people’s thoughts and behavior. Quoted in the article from theintercept.com, one Silicon Valley data scientist said, “The goal of everything we do is to change people’s actual behavior at scale . . . . We can capture their behaviors, identify good and bad behaviors, and develop ways to reward the good and punish the bad.”

How would this work? As described by researchers at Dublin City University, the avatars created by these VR platforms could “nudge” students into accepting certain views, perhaps by smiling at certain ideas and frowning at others. “Artificial avatars,” the researchers write, “would be all the more effective if they can access data about the user’s emotional responses via eye-tracking or other emotion capture.”

The multiplicity of issues raised by such technology is almost breathtaking. With such intimate personal data being collected by corporations and made available to schools (i.e., the government), the privacy issues alone could fill a book. And this technology is already creeping into schools. It’s safe to say the troubling issues are not being explained to parents.

Even Orwell didn’t foresee the type of technology that can change a child’s brain. Nor did he predict the level of arrogance that would allow government to embrace such technology without even telling parents what’s being done to their children. Parents must investigate the truth about personalized learning and the harm it can cause. And though they’ll be labeled Luddites by government officials, ed-tech lobbyists, and global planners, they must exercise their right to say, “No – never with my child.”

New Minnesota Law Says Parents Must Be Consulted About Surveys

Photo credit: Alexius Horatius (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Photo credit: Alexius Horatius (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a law yesterday that provides parents with input and schools with guidance about parental notification in terms of surveys.  These surveys can be very intrusive.

Minnesotans Against Common Core have pushed this bill, and this is a huge win for parents. They describe the bill this way:

Minnesota Statute 121A.065 states that school districts and charter schools must develop and adopt policies on conducting student surveys and their distribution IN CONSULTATION WITH PARENTS.  This is about as close to local control as one gets!  Additionally, school districts and charter schools must:

  1. Directly notify parents of these policies at the beginning of each school year
  2. Directly notify parents after making any substantive changes
  3. Inform parents at the beginning of the year if the district or school has identified specific or approximate dates for administering survevys
  4. Give parents reasonable notice of planned surveys scheduled after the start of the year
  5. Give parents direct, timely notice, by United States mail, email, or other direct form of communication, when the students are scheduled to participate in a student survey
  6. Give parents the opportunity to review the survey and to opt their students out of participating in the survey
  7. School districts and charter schools must not impose an academic or other penalty upon a student who opts out of participating in a survey under paragraph (a).

They provide the text of the statute.

“Noncognitive” Factors: Are they Fair Game for Data Collection and Instruction?

In February 2013, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology released a draft of Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century. To many who were aware of this report, it was alarming and controversial. In the summary of this report it says. “There is a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors—attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability—that high-achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success.” It seems typical that when the U.S. Department of Education releases a report like this the groundwork has already been laid for implementation of the ideas, if they have not already been embedded into existing and newly proposed practice. (this report does not seem to be available on the ed.gov website anymore)

The Strengthening Research Through Education Act (SETRA S227) would allow for the collection of data on “noncognitive” factors like those mentioned in the summary (see above). Karen Effrem has done a wonderful job of presenting issues and recommendations for SETRA in the brief she has prepared called Issues of Data Privacy, Parental Rights, and Federally Sponsored Psychological Screening in the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA)/Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA) in the Context of Current Federal Law and Programs. Karen Effrem, M.D., is the president of Education Liberty Watch and Executive Director of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition. She identifies and expands on four major issues and makes recommendations about them. The four major issues she addresses in this document are:

  1. SETRA seeks to expand federal psychological profiling of our children.
  2. SETRA only appears to prohibit a national database.
  3. There is continued reliance on a severely outdated and weakened FERPA.
  4. Reliance on PPRA that allows sensitive data prohibited in surveys to be collected in curriculum and assessments.

The Summary Response to the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee March Hearing “Strengthening Research and Privacy Protections to Better Serve Students” is a brief summary that Karen has prepared.

A one page handout has been prepared for people to download and share. This one pager is a good initial attention getter that may be followed up with Karen Effrem’s brief.

You should be able to download a pdf copy of this one pager by clicking in the upper right hand corner of the document or by clicking here.

The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) intends to begin assessing “noncognitive” factors. To do so, they will collect data on socio-economic status, technology use, school climate, grit, and desire for learning. The NAEP is making a leap from gathering academic content knowledge data to gathering “noncognitive” data. In making this move to gather data on “mindsets” that could be used for psychological profiling, NAEP will likely be in violation of federal law. For more information about this, you are encouraged to read the letter RE: Proposed National Education Assessment Plan and student/parental rights that the Liberty Counsel has addressed to Dr. Karen Effrem.

There seems to be a whole industry involved in the collection, storage, and sharing of student data, including “noncognitive” factors. Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins have written an article called The War on Student Privacy that features some of the players in this industry.

The education system, legislative bodies, government agencies, and industry all seem to think and act as if they are entitled to student data, including student-level (personally identifiable information) and “noncognitive” factors. Are student data, including student-level (personally identifiable information) and “noncognitive” factors really fair game? Many parents would not think so.

 

Why I Quit My Teaching Job

David Xirau was a math teacher at Weymouth High School (MA) until late January of this year.  Below is the letter he wrote about why he quit his teaching job.  What he expresses in his letter could be expressed by teachers in most any state these days.  How many teachers are we losing to the education reform movement?  How long will it take before citizens reclaim local control of their schools and allow teachers to teach?

     To whom it may concern:

Why am I leaving? Long story short, our current school system and certain administrative practices are not letting me do my job. I cannot work in an environment where only half of my time can be devoted to the art of teaching. I retired from the military to become an educator, and I am compelled to go where I can do this more effectively. Authentic teaching is done free of the restrictive standards, unattainable objectives, and insanely burdensome administrative minutiae that are imposed upon us every day. I became a teacher to serve the kids and the community, not the greedy, idealistic inexperienced administrators, corporate interests, and politicians who are destroying our beloved profession. I find myself each day spinning wheels trying to stay ahead of their game, crunching numbers, while our students’ true education suffers.

Year after year, “they” keep piling more and more tasks onto our plates with no extra compensation and no extra time to execute the tasks properly while none of our old responsibilities are taken away. Shouldn’t this FACT raise a red flag somewhere? Apologies do not solve the problem. Silence won’t make it go away. A real teacher knows that on any given day, every minute counts. With our limited time constraints, we find ourselves cutting corners to make everything fit, making difficult choices: “Do I call the parent of a student who is failing, or do I collect evidence for my evaluation”?

At what point will we break? How much more can we realistically be expected to sustain upon our backs before the stress is reflected in our teaching? In our home life?   In our health?   When our first thought in the morning is, “Sigh…only 10 more years to retirement,” instead of, “I am going to make a difference today,” something is very wrong. Administrative apologists claim they are bearing the weight as well – a curious thing how a $100,000-plus salary can help lighten the load for some people. Please.

What is the real cost of this extra work? Who is paying the price when our minds and energy are devoted to endless testing, development of standards and objectives, rubrics, measurement, results, analysis, DDMs, improvement plans, PLCs, “Smart” goals, evidence collecting, percentages, alignments, core curriculum, cross curriculum, accommodations, modifications, incessant IEP paperwork, meetings, data, data, data, and more data? Read the list again!! Where is the pedagogy?   When do we get to teach?

It has gotten to the point where each of us, literally, needs a secretary and a data analyst just to manage all of the extra work so that we can focus on the kids and perform our traditional duties. At the rate we are going, we will soon need lawyers in our classrooms… I have never worked in a place where so many people are afraid to make a decision or speak their mind for fear of losing their job, or for fear that the school will get sued. This mindset is unhealthy and unproductive.

How does this affect my job? As a result of having to devote more time, energy, and attention to the aforementioned tasks, I have had to turn down students for after-hours tutoring; I have had to decrease my outreach to parents; my planning has suffered; my creativity is limited; and my grading, attention to details, and other essential pedagogical tasks are also taking hits. There is no time to meet with peers to discuss shared courses or to mentor new teachers. I have students with learning disabilities that need my extra time and attention, but I have very little to give. I can no longer perform as much community service as I used to. I can go on, of course….

Many of the things that authentic teaching should be about are being sacrificed because our focus is divided into as many new “21st Century” objectives. I think that we are getting ahead of ourselves with our mission. How can we focus on 21-st Century skills when it is clear that our students have not yet mastered 20-th Century skills? The educational model of the previous century gave us Steve Jobs, Civil Rights, and took us to the moon. Thus far, the present model has only gotten us a lower standing and less respect on the International academic achievement scale. This is the indicator, the evidence, that we are not headed in the right direction. We’re losing track of the basics, trying to get our students to run when they haven’t yet learned to walk.

The business-minded, boilerplate approach to education through standardization, measurement, and analysis, greatly curtails teachers’ most valuable gifts, decreases morale, and as a consequence, affects our students. Our student body’s most prominent quality is its diversity, yet here we are, trying to measure them all by the same yardstick. We are trying to control output when we have no control over the input. It is folly to believe that we can adequately compare results across school years when so much changes every year. What is the control group in this social experiment? Diversity and standardization are not good bedfellows – the terms are oxymoronic at best. Authentic teaching cannot be done with a script.

I guess my decision to throw in the towel boils down to an unwillingness to serve two masters at once. I can either devote my time to teaching or I can help the District produce its precious data – but I can’t do both. I am morally and ethically incapable of doing each task at only 50%. Students need to be taught, not analyzed. They are human beings, not an experiment, not parts of a machine coming off of an assembly line. My students need and deserve my full attention, something I cannot give under the current circumstances.

APIA Blasts Congressional Leadership for Attempting to Ram Child Data Collection Bill Through Congress

Washington, D.C.–American Principles in Action is calling on Congress to oppose S.227, the Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA), which would violate the privacy of millions of students and parents.
SETRA is scheduled to be voted on Wednesday, February 25th in the U.S. House—even though the Senate has not yet voted on the bill. Congressional leadership intends to call a vote on the matter in both the House and the Senate this week, despite neither body holding a hearing on the bill.
“SETRA is dangerous legislation that would expand federal psychological profiling of children through expanding research on ‘social and emotional learning,’” said Jane Robbins, Senior Fellow at American Principles in Action.  “It would facilitate sharing of education statistics across states and agencies. It would continue to rely on the now-gutted FERPA statute to protect student data. SETRA must be defeated to protect student privacy rights.”
Emmett McGroarty, Director of Education at American Principles in Action, said, “Leadership is betraying the Constitution and the American people by rushing this bill through. Having so blithely disrespected the American people, it is difficult to see how they will ever regain their trust.”
American Principles in Action’s concerns with SETRA are three-fold:
1.) SETRA reauthorizes ESRA, the Education Sciences Reform Act, first passed in 2002, which facilitates intrusive data collection on students. ESRA began the idea of state longitudinal databases, which created the structure that would facilitate a de facto national student database. ESRA also eliminated previous penalties for sharing and otherwise misusing student data.
2.) SETRA allows for psychological profiling of our children, raising serious privacy concerns. Section 132, page 28 of SETRA: “…and which may include research on social and emotional learning, and the acquisition of competencies and skills, including the ability to think critically, solve complex problems, evaluate evidence, and communicate effectively…”
This means the federal government will continue to promote collection of students’ psychological information. APIA does not support allowing the federal government to maintain psychological dossiers on our children.
3.) SETRA depends on FERPA to protect student privacy, legislation that is now outdated and has been gutted by regulation. FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, passed in 1974, and is no longer sufficient to protect student privacy in the age of technology. Even worse, the Obama Administration gutted FERPA so that it no longer offers the protections it once did.
American Principles In Action is a 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to preserving and propagating the fundamental principles on which our country was founded. It aims to return our nation to an understanding that governance via these timeless principles will strengthen us as a country.
For further information or to schedule an interview with Jane Robbins or Emmett McGroarty, please contact Kate Bryan at American Principles in Action at 202-503-2010 or kbryan@americanprinciplesproject.org.

 

David Coleman Lauds the Use of Student Data

David Coleman, President of the College Board and “chief architect” of the Common Core State Standards, spoke at the Annual Strategic Data Project (SDP) Beyond the Numbers Convening hosted by the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University.  The theme was “from the classroom to the boardroom: analytics for strategy and performance.”  He lauded the collection and use of student data.  The video below is edited for relevant excerpts.  You can see his full speech here.

Ann Kane at American Thinker writes:

Also in his speech, Coleman, in referring to the College Board, stated he has now brought on Obama’s reelection team to develop his new Access to Rigor Campaign to collect and use data from students he calls “low-hanging fruit.”

The College Board will use its existing and future data “vault” to profile low income and Latino students from K-12 using the slogan “If they can go, they must go” to college.

In order to pull this off, the architect of the Common Core literally begs his audience–data geeks “installed” within school districts and specialists from the Strategic Data Project which is based in Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research–to join him in finding these students and interacting with them throughout their classroom years.

Coleman’s campaign is partnering with former Obama for America’s Chief Analytics Officer Dan Wagner as well as a person Coleman references in his speech as “Jeremy” (could he mean Jeremy Bird also formerly of the OFA data analysis team?). With Obama’s data gurus on hand, the Access to Rigor Campaign promises to be a broad national operation which will complement the massive Obama database already in use.

Update: Missouri Education Watchdog has a partial transcript, as well as, other info about David Coleman.

What 400 Data Points?

If you’re wondering what some opponents of the Common Core State Standards are talking about when they refer to 400 Data Points when discussing the potential data mining problems with the Common Core Assessments – you are not alone.

Here are a couple of links.

The first is from the National Center for Education Statistics.  The other can be found at Common Education Data Standards.  Both websites belong to the U.S. Department of Education.

HT: Jenni White of Restore Oklahoma Public Education