136 in the collection
N.Y. plans to share data from pre-K to workforce, aims to unlock keys to student success
Ohanian Comment: A few of us have been warning about this data over-reach, and it's good that ed officials are now on record.
What privacy protections are there when states share data with the testing consortia or with the feds?
History has proved that some commercial enterprises will abuse their access to student data and that FERPA is unable to provide the privacy and/or safety protections our children need and deserve.
Parents: One way to protect your child's data is Opt out of standardized testing.
Teachers: It's time for the Revolution. Refuse to give the standardized tests. Don't do this individually. Organize colleagues in your school and district. If you participate in this data collection, you become responsible for what happens.
Remember: Among the data collected for sharing:
- reading readiness test
- developmental delay
- personality test
- disciplinary referrals
- parents' significant others
And on and on and on. The U. S. government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation want a temper tantrum in kindergarten will follow a child to the grave.
I'm now following @bwasson on Twitter.
I thank Gary Stern who is unique among reporters in pointing out Jim Shelton's background--and who funds Paige Kowalski's operation: GATES GATES GATES GATES GATES
by Gary Stern
The state Education Department is in the final stages of creating a system to share student data with colleges and a half-dozen other state agencies so that New Yorkers can be tracked from preschool to college to the workforce and, potentially, "throughout their lives." As education reformers push the power of data analysis, state officials say the new system will let researchers find the keys to student achievement and failure. What does prekindergarten background say about the likelihood of success in high school Advanced Placement classes? How did college students who fail science do in middle school? What are the links between applying for unemployment benefits as an adult and one's educational history?
"The only purpose of this work is to get information that can make our education programs better," said associate education commissioner Ken Wagner, who is leading the initiative. "We want to learn the types of courses that kids do well in that will predict success in college and the workforce."
But this is a time of growing public anxiety about the use and security of data. Many educators and parents have railed against the state's separate plans to send identifiable student data to the privately run inBloom cloud for storage and controlled public use. Critics say the Education Department's little-known plans to share data with other agencies -- known as P-20 --raise all sorts of concerns about how closely government should be following citizens' lives.
"This throws up so many red flags for me as a parent, a tech guy and an educator," said Brian Wasson, a technology training specialist at St. Joseph's College on Long Island who has used his Twitter account to urge that attention be paid to P-20. "As this develops, will they decide to use this data for more than research? I donĂ˘€™t buy the rationale for it.Ă˘€ť
The state Education Department has been working on P-20, which refers to the period between prekindergarten and entry into the workforce, since at least 2008. The costs are difficult to separate, but the department has gotten more than $40 million in federal and state grants to expand its data systems.
New York is hardly alone. Forty-four states are synching data between schools and colleges, and 19 have connected workforce data, according to the Data Quality Campaign. The federal government has pushed the development of P-20 systems through Race to the Top, stimulus grants and other programs. (Emphasis added)
"Data is painting a profile of a student that is richer and more valuable than ever before," Jim Shelton, a U.S. Education Department official who previously worked for the pro-data Gates Foundation, said in a recent call with journalists.
He said government has to ensure that data are used responsibly, but that doing so is a "small price for progress."
The state Education Department already is linking data with SUNY, CUNY and the National Student Clearinghouse, which collects student information from 3,500 colleges and universities. Among the student records being shared are public-school classes, teachers and grades, and college transcripts.
"SUNY has a big focus on ensuring that high school kids are ready when they get to us," SUNY spokesman David Doyle said.
Wagner noted that, for instance, top school districts may say that 95 percent of their graduates go to college, without knowing how many really enroll or graduate.
"They may learn that it's only 80 percent," he said.
By the end of 2015, the department hopes to link with the state departments of Labor, Health and Taxation and Finance, and the offices of Technology and Children and Family Services. Records that could be included range from early childhood programs to job types and salaries, Wagner said.
Wagner said the structure of the P-20 program differs greatly from plans to store vast amounts of student data in a cloud run by inBloom, a nonprofit company. P-20 will not store much data, he said, but mostly will link data already held by different agencies so that only researchers can study the records. Any data or research that is stored will be held in a data "warehouse" run by a BOCES in Erie County.
At least some of the shared data will include studentsĂ˘€™ names. A 2011 state filing with the federal government also talks about agencies sharing common identification numbers that will "follow individuals throughout their lives."
Critics don't see a need for government agencies to share so much data or to keep studentsĂ˘€™ names on the records. And they are perplexed by the lack of accessible public information about the P-20 program.
"It's the same conversation as with inBloom. Why are they doing this? What's the purpose? Why do they need studentsĂ˘€™ names?" Pleasantville Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter said. "Do we need to share information about 5-year-olds with colleges? Unbelievable."
Activist Leonie Haimson, who has rallied national opposition to the inBloom project, said there is no way to know how government agencies really will use such long-term data.
"It adds to the suspicion that there is a surveillance state tracking kids," she said. "WeĂ˘€™re not against research, but there have to be strict controls on who can be trusted with the information."
There is a lot to take in for parents also trying to keep up with the rollout of the Common Core standards and a new battery of state tests. Wasson said that the state has made little effort to explain the P-20 program to parents or even school districts and that he can't find answers to basic questions, like how other state agencies might use student records. "The only information you can find on the Web are internal documents," he said.
Paige Kowalski, director of state policy for the Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit group funded by the Gates Foundation and others to promote the use of data in education, said states have to be clear and transparent about how their P-20 systems will work. (emphasis added)
She said states should have independent governing boards to oversee data sharing and to be accountable. States should use identifiable student data only when necessary, she said.
In New York, the Education Department is overseeing P-20, but other agencies have representatives on a steering committee set up in 2012.
"I very much understand the fears out there,Ă˘€ť Kowalski said. Ă˘€śYou see a lot of confusion without transparency. You have to explain that there are certain things you cannot know unless you follow kids from pre-K to post-secondary education.Ă˘€ť
Kowalski said that a good P-20 system may unlock key educational quandries. What is the real impact of prekindergarten over time? What went wrong for students who need remediation in college? How should high school be structured to ensure students are best prepared for college and jobs?
Some state legislators have pledged to discuss and possibly alter the inBloom project. It remains to be seen whether P-20 will be on their radar. Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, D-Mount Pleasant, who was made aware of P-20 by Wasson, said he couldnĂ˘€™t fathom why education officials would build a Ă˘€śstudent profilingĂ˘€ť system.
"This is a total misuse of government," he said. "This is Big Brother come home to New York."
The Journal News
January 25, 2014
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