InBloom Student Data Repository to Close
When this news flash came across my screen shortly after noon on April 21, 2014, I gave a whoop of joy. It's posted in the Technology section of the paper.
There's more detail here
By Natasha Singer
At the SXSWedu conference last year, Iwan Streichenberger, left, the chief executive of inBloom, appeared with Bill Gates, whose foundation provided seed money for the company. Amy E. Price/Inbloom, via PR NewswireAt the SXSWedu conference last year, Iwan Streichenberger, left, the chief executive of inBloom, appeared with Bill Gates, whose foundation provided seed money for the company.
In a setback for the nearly $8 billion prekindergarten through 12th-grade education technology software market, inBloom, a non-profit corporation offering to warehouse and manage student data for public school districts across the country, announced on Monday morning that it planned to shut its doors.
Financed with $100 million in seed money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the venture promised to streamline how teachers and administrators accessed student records. The system was meant to extract student data from disparate school grading and attendance databases, store it in the cloud and funnel it to dashboards where teachers might more effectively track the progress of individual students.
But the project ran into roadblocks in a number of districts and states over privacy and security issues.
The inBloom database included more than 400 different data fields about students that school administrators could fill in. But some of the details seemed so intimate -- including family relationships ("foster parent" or "father's significant other") and reasons for enrollment changes ("withdrawn due to illness" or "leaving school as a victim of a serious violent incident") -- that parents objected, saying that they did not want that kind of information about their children transferred to a third-party vendor.
That led some schools to recoil from the venture.
After parents in Louisiana discovered that their children's Social Security numbers had been uploaded to inBloom, Louisiana officials said last year that they would remove all student data from the database. Subsequently, the school board of the Jeffco district, in Jefferson County, Colo., voted to end its relationship with inBloom.
This month, after New York state legislators passed legislation prohibiting the state department of education from giving student information to data aggregators like inBloom, education officials also reversed their plans to use the service.
The idea of using data-mining to tailor learning for students may be promising. But the story of inBloom suggests that many parents remain leery.
In a statement on Monday morning, Iwan Streichenberger, the chief executive of inBloom, said that personalized learning was still an emerging concept. He said that inBloom, as an infrastructure layer of that ecosystem, had been "the subject of mischaracterizations and a lightning rod for misdirected criticism."
He added that inBloom would wind down over the coming months.
Ă˘€śWe stepped up to the occasion and supported our partners with passion,Ă˘€ť Mr. Streichenberger said in the statement, Ă˘€śbut we have realized that this concept is still new, and building public acceptance for the solution will require more time and resources than anyone could have anticipated.Ă˘€ť
Following is the full statement from inBloom.
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