Are parents informed this is happening with personal information they provide? Are parents asked permission or consent for their information to become part of a database beyond the confines and use of the brick and mortar school? Should parents be made aware of this practice? Should they be required to give consent?
Federal legislation calls for the collection of data to include:
- ethnic or racial groups,
- limited English proficiency status,
- migrant students,
- economically disadvantaged,
- assessment results,
- student-level enrollment,
- program participation,
- courses completed,
- student transcript information,
- transfers, teachers,
- family income.
There has been a push for state longitudinal data systems for many years. As early as 1965, the initial Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) mentions providing support for collecting and storing data and using automated data systems. Federal legislation and programs encourage or require data collection systems and the development of state longitudinal data systems. These include:
- Goals 2000
- Educate America Act
- Improving America’s Schools Act
- No Child Left Behind
- America Competes Act
- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
- Race to the Top
The early stated purposes for data collection were to determine things like graduation rates, job placement rates, and program effectiveness. The Race to the Top grant program created mandates for data systems to be used to inform decisions and improve instruction. While this is laudable, it is questionable as the driving need for data collection. An abundance of available data and research findings has been ignored in the reform education decision-making process. Many reform measures being pushed from the federal level on down have no evidence of effectiveness -- some have evidence of negative effectiveness -- yet continue to be foisted upon the states and local districts to implement.
Are our decision makers "Confusing Evidence and Politics"? Do they really have our students’ academic interest as a top priority? Does anyone know how to make effective decisions based on this information? Will the information be so overwhelming as to be useless except for cherry picking to support pet programs? Who will benefit most? Our students? Private corporations? Non-profit corporations? Individuals and groups in positions of power and authority?
Our society’s moral and ethical values might have slipped to the point at which individuals and groups in positions of power and authority feel it is appropriate to publicly release information that most people feel is confidential. Recently, state officials in Oklahoma posted private educational records of several students online. This information might not have come from their state longitudinal data system, but think of the control and power such information provides, especially if one is able to personally identify individuals. When "Big Brother" has the informational goods on the public, are people likely to speak up? Or will they maintain a cautious place in line?
There is a prohibition on the development of a nationwide database of personally identifiable information (PII). The Act that created No Child Left Behind says:
Nothing in this Act (other than section 1308(b)) shall be construed to authorize the development of a nationwide database of personally identifiable information on individuals involved in studies or other collections of data under this Act. 20 USC 7911.
The Data Quality Campaign’s report "Data for Action 2011: Empower with Data" indicates no states having all 10 Essential Elements of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems in place in 2005. In 2011, every state had at least seven of the 10 Elements in place and 36 states had all 10 Elements in place.
The Data Quality Campaign lists the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) among its Partners. The NGA and the CCSSO joined efforts in an initiative to develop the Common Core State Standards, and they share some of the same partners. Both the Data Quality Campaign and Common Core State Standards Initiative have been supported with grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (see 1, 2, 3).
The Common Core State Standards initiatives have provided investors and entrepreneurs with a lucrative market place. Besides the technology industry and service industry, who is it who stands to financially gain from the Data Quality Campaign and the state longitudinal data systems?
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) are working to "Promote the Voluntary Adoption of a Model of Common Data Standards," and they say: "The U.S. Department of Education will facilitate the leveraging, and where needed, the development of model common data standards for a core set of student-level variables to increase comparability of data, interoperability and portability of data, and reduce collection burden."
- Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grants Program,
- Race to the Top,
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B,
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C,
- Carl D. Perkins and Technical Education Act of 2006,
- Title I,
- Teacher Incentive Fund,
- Striving Readers Program,
- Child Care and Development Block Grant,
- Workforce Data Quality Initiative,
- Workforce Innovation Fund, and the
- Workforce Investment Act.
Below is a notice that I have written and which I believe should be provided to parents and all of the media. For obvious reasons, it never will be provided:
J.R. Wilson is a parent and an education advocate with 25+ years experience in public education as an elementary teacher, curriculum consultant, staff development coordinator, and principal.
For the complete original article, plus Wilson's references and his two sidebars of additional information, please see this Google document.