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Monday, February 24, 2014

Sharing Student Data In The Cloud: Should We Be Worried?

Students take a quiz in Eric Miller's eighth grade algebra class at Lakes Magnet Middle School in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. (Jessica Robinson/Northwest News Network)

The majority . (Jessica Robinson/Northwest News Network)

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is addressing educators in Washington today on the issue of student data — everything from attendance and health records to test scores and disciplinary data.

There’s a big fight going on in many states over whether that data should be stored online and managed by third parties like inBloom, a nonprofit funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Inbloom declined Here & Now’s request for an interview, but we are joined by two people with very different views on this: Mary Fox-Alter, superintendent of schools in Pleasantville, N.Y., and Aimee Rogstad Guidera, executive director of the Data Quality Campaign.

Interview Highlights

Mary Fox-Alter on why the sharing of student data concerns her

“We firmly believe that the release of student data into this big gigantic data storage facility called inBloom has devastating consequences for children in three areas: the area of privacy, the area of profiteering and the area of profiling. The idea that this big data box that doesn’t have any windows, just one door with a secure access, often equated to a super big Costco and then any software vendor can get a key to that door and have access to all of this data and they will come out with this inBloom certified stamp of approval on that. You can have access to student transcripts, you can have access to student suspension records. A teacher of a next year student can take a look at their discipline files, and again I believe that that is profiling. The state of New York actually says that results of the 3 through 8 tests which will be in there that will tell a second grader, a third grader, a fourth grader whether they are career and college ready at a very young age.”

Aimee Rogstad Guidera on the benefit of sharing student data

“We believe that data is the great equalizer, and you know the truth is we’ve always had data in education but we’ve never used it to really change conversations, to change actions and to change outcomes. And we’re now on the cusp and it’s starting to happen around the country where we’re starting to see where educators and families are having access to quality, actionable information. And as a result, it’s changing the teaching and learning process, it’s providing better transparency about whats going on, it allows us to have richer conversations about accountability, and most importantly it’s empowering individuals to make great decisions for their own kids. And I just want to reinforce, this is about — more than anything — empowering parents with actionable information about their own kids that they’ve never ever had before.”

Mary Fox-Alter on parents already having access to the data they need

“We’ve been monitoring fluency rates and how kids read and reading levels for a number of years now. All of that information is revealed to parents right now. A parent can log on in my district, log on to a teacher grade book and and look at all of the information. They could look at attendance records. I pay good solid money for that. This whole idea that we have to take all of this information, put it up into a big cloud called inBloom, pay additional money per child for doing this — it’s a waste of tax payers money, it’s a redundancy and it’s based upon assumptions that aren’t valid.”

“Do you realize that this new system is going to allow the collection of student suspension records by name? I put forth that this system does not afford the same protection to children’s privacy as our criminal justice system. So a child that might, for example, get an in-school suspension as a seventh or eighth grader or a high school student. And a child who’s been out in the criminal justice system will have his or her records sealed if they’re in the criminal justice system, but not in my student data inBloom cloud? It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Aimee Rogstad Guidera on many schools not yet providing this data

“Not every family is as lucky as those that get to live in Mary’s district. The vast majority of parents and families in this country do not have access to the information that Mary just said her families do in Pleasantville. And that’s a travesty. We shouldn’t limit the access to information based on where you’re lucky enough to live in a zip code that provides the kind of of information that Mary has. And that is an important role of the state education agencies — to ensure that they can guarantee that every parent, every citizen gets the information that they need to make informed decisions. And that’s a critical role of the state to play that.”

“On the issue about privacy, we believe so strongly — protecting and safeguarding data is a critical part of promoting the effective use of data. No one is going to use data that they believe is going to hurt their kids, or that’s going to come back and hurt them. And we need to do everything possible in the education sector to ensure parents and teachers and students themselves and taxpayers and citizens, that this sensitive data is being private and secure and confidential.”

Guests

Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

I'm Meghna Chakrabarti. It's HERE AND NOW. And there are a lot of big stories in the news today; we're following all of them, including the latest from Ukraine, where the country's new leaders have issued an arrest warrant for ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

HOBSON: We are also keeping an eye on Egypt, where the entire cabinet resigned today.

CHAKRABARTI: And in Washington, a proposal today from the defense secretary that would shrink the Army to its smallest size since before World War II. But there is something else happening today that may have just as big an impact on our lives here in this country and probably won't be in the headlines.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is addressing educators in Washington on the issue of student data.

HOBSON: We are talking here about everything from attendance records to health records to test scores and disciplinary data. There is a big fight going on in many states, including New York, over whether that data should be stored online and managed by third parties like inBloom. That is a nonprofit funded by the Gates Foundation, and it's going to be used in New York state.

Now inBloom declined our request for an interview, but we are joined now by two people with very different views on this. Mary Fox-Alter is superintendent of the Pleasantville, New York, school district. Mary Fox-Alter, welcome.

MARY FOX-ALTER: Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

HOBSON: And we are also joined by Aimee Rogstad Guidera. She is executive director of the group the Data Quality Campaign. Welcome to you.

AIMEE ROGSTAD GUIDERA: Thanks so much, Jeremy, I look forward to the conversation.

HOBSON: Well, superintendent, I want to start with you. You and several other superintendents in New York state are asking the state's board of education not to release your student data to this nonprofit repository called inBloom. Why? What are you worried about?

FOX-ALTER: We firmly believe that the release of student data into this big, gigantic data storage facility called inBloom has devastating consequences for children in three areas, the area of privacy, the area of profiteering and the area of profiling. The idea that this big data box that doesn't have any windows, just one door with a secure access, I often equate it to like a super-big Costco, and then any software vendor can get a key to that door and have access to all of this data, and they will come out with this inBloom certified stamp of approval on that.

You can have access to student transcripts. You can have access to student suspension records. A teacher, a next-year student could take a look at their discipline files. And again, I believe that that is profiling. The state of New York actually says that the results of the three to eight test, which will be in there, will tell a second-grader, a third-grader, a fourth-grader whether or not they are career and college ready at a very young age.

HOBSON: And this is happening not just in New York state but in other states, as well. Aimee Rogstad Guidera, I imagine you disagree with some of the sentiments there. And I want you to make the case for us, first of all, of why we need to be collecting and sharing the data of kids.

GUIDERA: Sure. So I'm an unabashed advocate, and we all are at the Data Quality Campaign, for changing the use of data in education. We believe that data is the great equalizer. And, you know, the truth is we've always have data in education, but we've never used it to really change conversations, change actions and to change outcomes.

And we're now on the cusp, and it's starting to happen around the country, where we're starting to see where educators and families are having access to quality actionable information. And as a result, it's changing the teaching and learning process. It's providing greater transparency about what's going on. It allows us to have richer conversations about accountability.

And most importantly, it's empowering individuals to make great decisions for their own kids. And I just want to reinforce this is about, more than anything, empowering parents with actionable information about their own kids that they've never, ever had before.

HOBSON: Well, give me an example of that, of how exactly this data could be used to help parents and their kids.

GUIDERA: Well number one, you know, I'm a mom, and the number one question I want to ask my teachers, and I ask them constantly, you know, in my teacher conferences, but every time I have a chance to talk to them, how is my kid doing. Is my kid on track to be ready for this, you know, knowledge economy that they're going to be going out into? And how do I know?

And rather than in the past where teachers would say trust us, we're doing the right thing, everything's going to be OK, they now can provide me data showing how's my kid doing not just compared to other kids in her classroom but also in the school. But also, we're now able to get this actionable information that shows, because we do have this ability to look and know that if a kid is scoring at this point in the third grade, you know, for a real data point, we know if kids aren't reading on grade level by third grade, the chances of them graduating from high school are diminishing.

And so that's real data that we can tell parents that we need to get your kid reading on grade level by third grade, or we know that the results aren't going to be great. And while that may be scary, as, you know, as the superintendent just talked about of being profiling, we think it's much more empowering when you start thinking about that power of data put into the hands of families so that they know how they can be the best advocate for their child.

And when teachers are given that information and given the training to know how to use it, it empowers them to not just teach the whole class in a cohort but to really focus the teaching process on individual needs and to make sure that every kid is getting what they need and are ready to be prepared and to live up to their potential.

HOBSON: Mary Fox-Alter, what about that, that this empowers people to have this kind of data?

FOX-ALTER: Well, I find the comments actually incredibly surprising. My community would vote down every single budget if we weren't doing that right now. School districts should be doing that right now. Ours does. Ours is a parent portal. We've been monitoring fluency rates and how kids read and reading levels for a number of years now. All of that information is revealed to parents right now.

A parent can log on in my district, log on to a teacher grade book and look at all the information. They could look at attendance records. I pay good, solid money for that. This whole idea that we have to take all of this information, put it up into a big cloud called inBloom, pay additional money per child for doing this, is a waste of taxpayers' money, it's a redundancy, and it's a - based upon assumptions that aren't valid.

HOBSON: But aren't you better off, though, if you take all the data from all kinds of districts all across the country and throw them together so that you can really see, in a more specific way, how students are performing?

FOX-ALTER: I can see that already. I actually got a call last week, an email from a school district in Wisconsin, that noticed Pleasantville's performance over a five-year period. And they sent me a lengthy survey asking me for the type of materials and tools that we are using within our district to get that level of performance.

Again, I come back to risk versus rewards. Since that information is already readily available to parents, to teachers, to students, to many educators, it's available, it's public information, you can download it off the state education website, all of this exists currently right now.

The thought now of taking our children, our most vulnerable of people, up into a data cloud, a national cloud, which isn't going to protect my kid's privacy the way I can - do you realize that this new system is going to allow the collection of student suspension records by name? I put forth that this system does not afford the same protection to children's privacy as our criminal justice system.

So a child that might, for example, get an in-school suspension as a seventh or eighth grader or a high school student, and a child who's been out in the criminal justice system, will have his or her record sealed if they're in the criminal justice system but not in my student data inBloom cloud? It's absolutely ridiculous.

HOBSON: We're speaking with Mary Fox-Alter, the superintendent of the Pleasantville, New York, school district; and Aimee Rogstad Guidera, who is the executive director of a group called the Data Quality Campaign. Aimee, what are your thoughts on what we've just heard?

GUIDERA: Not every family is as lucky as those that get to live in Mary's district. The vast majority of parents and families in this country do not have access to the information that Mary just said that her families do in Pleasantville, and that's a travesty.

We shouldn't limit the access to information based on where you're lucky enough to live in a zip code that provides the kind of information that Mary has. And that is an appropriate role of the state education agencies, to ensure that they can guarantee that every parent, every citizen, gets the information that they need to make informed decisions. And that's a critical role of the state to play that.

And it turns out that when you ask parents what they need, what they really want to know is how well do the kids do in this high school or the school system that my kid's going to graduate from, how they do in the real world. That's information that a district by itself cannot provide, and only the state can do that because the state has the ability to follow students after they leave a high school and follow them into post-secondary education and training.

And on the issue about privacy, we believe so strongly, you know, protecting and safeguarding data is a critical part of promoting the effective use of data. No one is going to use data that they believe is going to hurt their kids or that's going to come back and hurt them. And we need to do everything possible in the education sector to ensure parents and teachers and students themselves and taxpayers and citizens that this sensitive data is being kept private and secure and confidential.

And there's a way that we can do that, and...

HOBSON: Well, do you think that way includes new regulations at a federal level?

GUIDERA: I think perhaps at the federal level, but where we're also seeing a lot of activity, which is really important, is at the state level. We now have almost half the states thus far in this year's legislative session, we're seeing legislative conversations about this very topic so that there's a better understanding of what data is being collected on my child.

How do I know who has access to it? What's it being used for? How do we make sure it's being kept private and secure? And that's how we're going to start getting a different conversation, where it's not scaremongering, why it matters for me as a parent, as a taxpayer, as a mom, to have access to this information. I think that's the first part, and as part of that step is how do we make sure that you can safeguard my kid's data, as well.

HOBSON: Mary Fox-Alter, let me finally go back to you and as you this. This sounds very similar to the debate over data that was taken by Edward Snowden and released and this question about whether we're safer because we have more data, and it can help prevent terrorist attacks, or whether we've got a real problem with privacy.

And a lot of people are angry about it. They don't want to hear that the government is using their data in this way. But they'd rather have it be used and at least feel safer. Doesn't it feel like this is moving away from the privacy argument and more towards that we need more data to help us do things in a smarter way?

FOX-ALTER: Oh, my goodness, Jeremy, I'm an American. For crying out loud, I believe in local control. I believe in state constitutions. And anyone who puts forth the argument that privacy is dead really needs to just wake up and smell the coffee and get rejuvenated about what we are as Americans. I put forth that the model is flawed. There are no data privacy assurances with any of this rollout.

There is no direct notification to parents if there's a breach. I put forth that this has not been well thought out, that all the things that Aimee has mentioned have not been put in writing. There are no assurances in place, and everything should be put on hold until all of that happens.

And public school districts that aren't sharing information with parents right now should be held accountable to that. Early warning tracking systems do exist. They're part of state law, and they should be enforced.

HOBSON: Well, we will have to leave it there but a debate that will continue for a long time, I'm sure, as this new world of data in education gets sorted out. Mary Fox-Alter, superintendent of the Pleasantville, New York, school district; and Aimee Rogstad Guidera, executive director of the Data Quality Campaign; thanks to both of you for joining us.

FOX-ALTER: Thank you, Jeremy.

GUIDERA: Thanks so much, Jeremy.

HOBSON: And after hearing those two sides of that debate, let us know what you think about this, about the balance between having more information and having adequate privacy. You can go to hereandnow.org and leave a comment, or you can tweet us @hereandnow. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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  • Guest

    Start tracking them young; another tool for this increasing elitist society. “Private and secured data…” What world is this Lady living in – I want to move there!

    • disqus_63X8zNMKNl

      As far as “elitist” society goes, I’ve always had a problem with using that word, since it’s been used to describe people like me, who don’t have much money but who are college-educated and love books and symphonies and the opera. People say that liking opera is “elitist.” But if “elistist” refers to the income inequity in this country and refers to the rich who have taken over this country, then I’m with you. Programs like this data collection are not proposed for the benefit of the majority of citizens but for a select few.

      • Coree Price

        It’s too bad you are bringing politics into your reply disqus_63X8zNMKNI. I feel your response is liberal-based because you are immediately blaming the rich people in our country. The Elitist concept grows from a society which tracks, compares, and then competes among itself to be the best of the best – for example, my child must be at the top of his class, must be the best in his sport, and must fit into a particular mold that the government helps to define. I think this is what the person above was referring to.

        • disqus_63X8zNMKNl

          Thank you for your reply. I think politics is part and parcel of many issues, including the data collection concept. And you’re right: I am a liberal. I don’t know when that word became a perjorative, but if I don’t speak from my own long-thought-out beliefs, I don’t know what perspective I’m supposed to speak from.

          • Coree Price

            Only an elitist would use the word “perjorative” – I had to Google that one. You have every right to speak your mind, as we all do, but the mere mention of operas, books, and higher education immediately painted a clear picture in my head.

      • aLittleCommonSense

        quite the opposite, you can go back to your latte now.

      • Guest

        Do not fret Mr. disqus_… by definition elitist defines people that think themselves as superior to others in intellect, power, wealth, etc. find no place or value for people unlike them. Liking books, and education, and beautiful music is not being elitist, unless you feel elevated over the rest because you like these things.

        • disqus_63X8zNMKNl

          No, I do not feel superior or elevated over people who don’t like the things I like. It’s more that it’s disquieting to hear people refer with contempt that one is “elitist” if one enjoys going to a symphony, or who reads a lot. That, I have heard, not directed at me personally but more in a general sense.

          • Guest

            Then I commend you Sir; I advocate for the pusuit of excellence and beauty and find this kind of people good company. I think sometimes the term elitist (very dangerous) is confused with being presumptuous (just obnoxious).

  • Sam

    Inspiring response by Mary Fox-Alter. If you can make it you can break it is my response to any software data collecting program. If the Pleasantville information system works as well as Ms Fox-Alter states in terms of helping parents and educators, why would we want another?

    • aLittleCommonSense

      Because not every school is as rich as hers. And having software standards that create competition in the marketplace will drive the cost of software down for schools (and for taxpayers). Do you know how much money your schools spend on technology? Something has to change!

  • ML

    Assume the system will be hacked. Ritalin advertisement in your mailbox, embarrassing student info discovered by future employer, etc.

    • disqus_63X8zNMKNl

      It’s a sure bet that advertising is going to be part of this system.

      • aLittleCommonSense

        and a sure bet that what you say is wrong and completely illegal. Work with facts.

  • Coree Price

    Have we not enough testing and tracking in the educational system? When will we as a nation stop this madness? My son is in Kindergarten in Ohio; my district provides detailed information on his reading scores, writing scores, and many other academic and social markers. Do we as parents really need more government involvement in our lives?

    Ohio holds a bill titled “Senate Bill 210″ which in essence tracks a child’s BMI through the course of their academic career. The bill proposes that this data is collected for information purposes only so that the federal government can keep track of the health of our children. Thank God my district has chosen to opt-out of this program. Senate Bill 210 is the perfect example of where we are headed as a nation. Enough said.

  • Julie

    Julie — 100% Agreement with the supt. in New York. I served on a school board for many years — our district certainly had this information and provided it to parents. The director of the Data Quality Campaign is talking about parents who already have all the information they need. Instead of instituting this idea which lacks any common sense, she should work on getting more parents involved with their children’s education. How many children have parents who read to them? How many parents attend PTA meetings, school conferences, school board meetings?

    • disqus_63X8zNMKNl

      You’ve hit the nail on the head, Julie. This information is already available to parents who want it. The problem absolutely is that unfortunately, even in middle-class and well-to-do school systems many parents do not attend PTA meetings, etc., don’t read to them, have little time or maybe little interest in their child’s education. And many school districts are pathetically poor and crime ridden. I’d like to know how all of these parents are going to come up with “great” decisions about their child’s schooling.

  • Diana van Ek

    How much data is enough!? Let teachers teach and do what they are trained to do! The idea that all this testing and data collecting empowers parents or teachers is ridiculous. This “one size fits all” testing, test prep and data analysis does NOTHING to individualize my child’s education. Data-shmata.

    • Peter Lorenzoni

      Great point. The new assumption is that teachers can’t be trusted. Why don’t we hold other professions to this absurd level.

  • Peter Lorenzoni

    Americans are going into Data Overload! If you’re willing to work less, stay up until 1.00am to digest all this “information” be my guest. The rest of the World is getting on with the show while we buy into this.

  • westello

    Parents, protect YOUR child’s privacy. FERPA changed and districts/state offices of education can designate ANY entity/person an “educational provider.” In my state, our daily newspaper – a for-profit organization – was granted access to see student data.

    There are approx. 400 data points out there that can be collected on your child like foster/homeless status, discipline records, family income, etc.

    Child identity theft is the fastest growing type of identity theft. You may not know -for years – if your child’s identity has been compromised.

    So with more entities wanting more data AND the real and true possibility of data breaches means we ALL need state laws to protect our children.

    If, we as adults, worry about Target and NSA, etc., what about your children?

  • Heather Barr

    Data advocate is talking about giving parents “data points” so they know if their kids are reading on track in 3rd grade. We’ve already got these data points, they’re called “tests.” They’ve been around for a really long time; you should look in to them, Data Lady.

    This is an absurd power grab by big money corporations trying another way to edge into our public schools.

  • Frank

    Could not agree more with Mary Fox-Alter. Amen for folk like her!

    • aLittleCommonSense

      yeah, she’s a “have” that doesn’t care about the “have-nots”. Clearly. paraphrasing what she said: “I pay good solid money for a proprietary tool, why should I switch to an open source, open platform that could also be used by less fortunate districts”. Just sad.

      • saltofthemoon

        Three things: 1) “This whole idea that we have to take all of this information, put it up into a big cloud called inBloom, pay additional money per child for doing this — it’s a waste of tax payers money” so it makes no financial sense for her district to do it 2) the information can be shared among districts already, like she said, why do we need state bureaucracy to get involved using outside vendors? and 3) so, only school districts that cannot pay for data protection should be the targets of data mining because they don’t have the money to stop it if its not in their best interests because state aid is often conditioned on districts sending data? That’s just sad. http://pleasantville.patch.com/groups/schools/p/pleasantville-schools-withdraws-from-race-to-the-top

  • Terry

    I am from Canton, CT and have access to a grading and attendance portal that is quite comprehensive. The results of State mandated tests are mailed home and if “comparison” is what you want, you will clearly see where your child is. I try to encourage my son not to “compare” himself to others but I guess we are all guilty of that.

  • disqus_63X8zNMKNl

    Listening to Guidera say that having students’ data available, parents will be able to make “great” decisions–that comment alone drove me to stop everything and post a comment. “Great decisions”? What planet is Guidera living on? First of all, one of the greatest problems teachers have with their students is the lack of involvement from parents, whether it be caused by overworked parents who have no time, parents with little interest and support of education, parents who feel overwhelmed and helpless when it comes to the school system. Does Guidera actually think that if a child’s “data,” such as visits to the principal’s office, is available that somehow a “great” decision is going to come out of that from parents? How many parents will simply lecture, or even punish their child? How many will be able to come to an already overwhelmed teacher and ask and get answers as to how to help their child with emotional or behavioral problems? I think most teachers wish they could help all over their 35-40 students per class with all of these problems, but the chance of that actually happening is close to nil, given all the competing circumstances of parenting and working and life.
    I agree with the superintendent that this absolutely is a sort of profiling, and is very frightening. My bet is that Guidera’s children attend a school with small class size, filled with students who have opportunities most children don’t have, the parents of which know they will be able to send their children to college. The whole idea of this sort of data collecting and making it available is frightening, and in my opinion driven by capitalizing on people who have no say in this, by people who will make money on it. Really scary.

    • Retired teacher

      Excellent point!! As a recently retired teacher, I agree with you wholeheartedly. This push is all about corporate interests accessing huge numbers of specifically targeted potential consumers at no cost to themselves! It’s all about potential profit, and believe me, these interests have no interest in your (or anyone else’s) child’s learning, as long as they can sell a program and make a profit! I have seen this, and it’s sickening, and it’s the reason I retired early–couldn’t be a part of this any longer.

  • caleb

    We know who the superintendent is. What is the entity that the other woman works for? Who funds this orgainzatiion? What is its agenda? Follow the money in cases likie this. The interviewer ignored getting this fundamental information.

  • Peter Lorenzoni

    OK The verdict is out….The Data “Quality” Campaign needs to regroup!

  • dac

    Agreed with everything stated! Don’t kid yourself. Children’s data will be compromised and unfortunately those who are at most risk – families who are struggling with poverty, learning disabilities and other life challenges won’t be entering this discussion because life is in their face and they are forced to trust institutions. Let our institutions be trustworthy!

    No one has mentioned that this is also about business. There is a lot of money to be made in education.

  • Lisa D.

    The NY Sup. said it best, schools DO share data with their families (they have a vested interest in student success!) and if you don’t feel you’re getting what you need from your school or district then YOU need to advocate for your child! You need to be the squeaky wheel b/c the info is accessible. The “scare mogle” is the Quality Campaign telling families that it’s NOT happening. I taught 10 years in a Title 1 school & our staff worked with families and kept them informed ALL the time.
    If I had a deeper concern with any of my students, I was communicating (even thru translators) w/ the family AND before conference time. NO parent wants to hear about concerns for the first time at conference time.

  • jon meadow

    I laughed when I heard this broadcast. They said people need to wake up to who we are. People claiming the identity of the nation while the nation becomes a quagmire of deception, theft, and murder make me laugh.

    Data security is not the real issue, but security is. To be secure as a nation, the nation has to have a foundation of common knowledge that identifies US, as in we the people today.

    This has not happened yet, because even though a hundred years is a lifetime, 300 years is just a fleeting moment of the internal polity that defines OUR principles. The first few hundred year of any country are more of a stumble than anything intentional.

    Public education is just that: public. It needs to be based upon the principles enshrined in OUR Constitution, not the living document stuff that violates first principles with present policies. We need unity in public education, and what data is collected needs to be constrained in a report card.

  • Passingonthrough

    Mary Fox-Alter is exactly right. There is absolutely no reason for this information to be put in yet another cloud awaiting for some hacker to obtain the information. Once a child leaves high school, there is no reason for anything other than their grades to be shared at the next level of schooling, and that for only those that move on to higher education. The most effective means of keeping information from being hacked is to keep it distributed and localized; not in one big cloud. Sheer lunacy.

    • aLittleCommonSense

      Already in proprietary clouds. Google it.

  • Rafe Sagarin

    I was extremely unimpressed by the arguments of Aimee the “big data” advocate. How do you know how your children are doing and how well prepared for the real world they are without a big database? Um, you pay attention to them. You read to them. You watch how they interact with their peers and other people. This whole big data push is akin to hysteria about the “digital divide” – that if we don’t shove computers in front of every kid as soon as possible, they somehow won’t be able to cope in the “digital future”. Yet somehow my generation–none of whom had a computer before high school–invented Google and use computers every day for work and social just fine. Likewise, we don’t need big data and metrics to understand kids and what they need – we just need to be observant and pay attention.

    • aLittleCommonSense

      yeah, customized and personal learning is horrible! We should stick with regimented lessons like we do today! Because that works so well!

  • U. Ward

    I suspect that the gathering of student data will be used for the purpose of recognizing those student who may pose a threat. This information can ultimately have an adverse affect on those students with regard to college acceptance or even the work place.

    i can’t really articulate it better than Ms. Fox-Alter, other than to say that it is not necessary to gather and make such data available, particulary on such a large scale.

  • Deeanne Bennett

    The data they are talking about providing will only allow parents to see how well their child tests. How is that going to show how well they will do in the world? When was the last time ‘the real world’ took a test? Also, the data advocate…did she mention that she is funded by the Gates foundation and others who stand to make millions on this program? No, like all education ‘reformers’ she hides behind an innocuous named group that exists solely to privatized education. The fact that she had the nerve to say that not all parents had the access to educational information in zip codes other than Pleasntville, NY is the height of hypocrisy. Her group is working with the richest zip codes in the nation. They’re partners list reads as who’s who of for profit educational institutions.

  • Lynn

    Mary Fox is correct. The protections are not in place. Corporations have no right to student data. I would love to know how many schools do not have a system in place to share necessary data with parents and teachers. It seems like an easy fix since so many schools already do a good job at collecting and using data appropriately. A quick search on the Data Quality Campaign again brings up ties to Gates and many other corporate interests. Here is the link: http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/the-data-quality-campaign-encouraging-states-to-ramp-up-data-collection/

    • aLittleCommonSense

      Corporations already have student data, because they already sell software to your schools. Have you been in a school?

  • J. Francisco

    Ms. Guidera conveniently did not mention that once the data is in the inBloom cloud, it will be provided to for-profit vendors and corporations who will then use it to market even more products to our schools. I’m a parent too, and I have all the academic information I need to know when I communicate with my kids’ teachers and administrators and also view their data on the parent portal. There is no way that personal information about suspension rates, health concerns, etc., should be go beyond the local district; it should be confidential, between the parents and the district ONLY.

    • aLittleCommonSense

      Except vendors ALREADY market to schools. And provide proprietary solutions that your school pays a ton of money for. We need an open non-proprietary platform and create competition. School software today is like cable at your house today — little choice and high cost. Monopolies at their worst. Something like inBloom has the chance of leveling the playing field against the big corporations that dominate K-12 education. But no one says that ever!

  • C J

    I agree with Mary. Also, what ever happened to parents going to see the school counselor, teachers etc. to get this information? Takes a little effort..but what’s more important…convenience or our children?

  • Holly

    I feel this data pigeon holes children into a set category, especially for children who change schools. Often a child’s sucess is based on their home life. This data would not factor that in.

  • Hanzo

    So… Given the data breaches by the major credit card companies, NSA, Target, etc. why on earth would we think these guys and gals will be able to protect this data? I would like to see the people advocating and running this program to put up that, if the data gets stolen, sold or otherwise breached, they will immediately be fired and have all pay they have received for doing this clawed back. All of it. If they are so confident, let them have some real responsibility beyond having to say “oops” when it happens.

  • DonVila

    We’re always told data is important. There’s never a discussion about what data they mean and/or how it can/could be used in a helpful way. Aimee shows us this by saying clever sounding things that don’t mean anything at all. She further deceives us by claiming privacy protection is a priority at InBloom, when it is clearly the case that marketing is the main mission.

  • RebA

    Recently I was rejected from a job I was hired for because I could not get a clearance. The information in the government investigation was wrong. When I attempted to get that information changed and corrected I was told that the file was closed because the company no longer was considering me for the position. I was shocked at the information they had, how wrong and how slanted it was. We have been lulled into thinking that we are safe. It is important to say NO to data collectors. In Europe they are more concerned.

  • NYCviaFLA

    Aimee Rogstad Guidera’s generalities do nothing to back up her claims of the miracles InBloom or any data cloud has in store for our children, making it clear she’s simply hawking a product on behalf of an astroturf organization created to stifle public outcry.
    “It’s changing the teaching and learning process,” In what way? NYC has a data portal for every school and every child that almost no one uses. Adding suspension rates to that won’t tell most parents anything they don’t already know, but it WILL tell future employers as well as current marketers. “The vast majority of parents and families in this country do not have access to the information.” In fact, parent/teacher conferences are in place to provide information FACE-TO-FACE to ALL families, so that parents can understand how their children are doing in the classroom and also how a teacher deals with the individualities of the child. Data can never convey the nuances a face-to-face meeting can.
    Neither teachers nor parents are asking for the services Ms. Rogstad Guidera claims will benefit them so spectacularly. Quite the opposite, parents and teachers who know New York state is planning to sell our children’s private information to their edutech cronies are clamoring to stop it. Parents who want “more data” want it delivered to them privately by a caring individual. If InBloom were truly “about empowering parents,” as Ms. Rogstad Guidera claims, then it would empower parents to opt their children out of the data cloud. But no, we do not have that option. Spend the money (the LOTS of money) on smaller class sizes and wrap-around services that work to mitigate the worst effects of poverty. Research shows these kinds of efforts will benefit our kids more than anything else.

  • Ms Information

    I know that this is yesterday’s news and likely no one will look at these comments again but I’ll comment anyway. First it concerns me that inBloom didn’t participate in the interview to give specific information about their database and how it would be used. Which left Ms Guidera able to only give us generalities about data collection. Second I would recommend anyone interested in looking at Aimee Guidera’s and Mary Fox-Alter’s websites to understand their sides. Both are passionate about educating children. Third every parent whose child goes to a school with some type of website that tracks progress should find out what program and or company runs that site. They are most likely databases too and they may be private companies. My kid’s school system uses Infinitecampus which states just as inBloom’s website states that students’ privacy and security is their highest priority. I don’t know if this information makes me feel better about inBloom or even more paranoid about my child”s privacy being compromised no matter who has their information (a little too Brave New World). Taking all this into consideration I do have to agree with Ms Fox-Alter regarding the redundancy of required use of inBloom for school district who already use a database for their school systems. Furthermore inBloom is only free for the first year or two then there is a cost of $2-3 per student. That could be some big bucks. Lastly, I always wonder about how data gets used. Just like any other statistics, it can be manipulated to suit the user and support their agenda.

  • aLittleCommonSense

    So, Mary says “I don’t need inBloom, because I already have inBloom”. Wow. wish less fortunate districts were so lucky. Oh, and it’s not a “national database”. Work on your facts.

  • MS Mom

    I would not put much faith in what Amiee @ Data Quality says. I just looked on their website and they are funded by Gates Foundation to push CCSS and the data collection efforts. The company is not unbiased in it’s opinion. After all Gates funded CCSS, and data collection idea anyway. Here is what Mr. Gates said in July 2009
    National Conference of State Legislatures “When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will
    line up as well—and that will unleash powerful market forces in the
    service of better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large
    base of customers eager to buy products that can help every kid learn
    and every teacher get better.”

    I’m not so sure he is worried about teachers and students getting better or just lining his pocketbook and remain the worlds most wealthy man. Before you believe anyone speaking on behalf of data collection, common core and anything in education, find out whose back pocket they are in.

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