Archive for the ‘FERPA’ Tag

Alpine School Board Members Speak Out For Student Privacy   4 comments

Alpine-Board-10x8-1024x819

 

Three remarkable Alpine School Board Members: Wendy Hart (front left) Brian Halladay (standing, middle)  and Paula Hill (front, right) have written an open letter on student privacy, citing documented realities (contracts, documents and laws) that boldly stand for student privacy and parental rights, against Common Core SAGE/AIR testing.  The letter stands tall against statements from State Associate Superintendent Judy Park and the Utah State Office of Education that claim all is well with student privacy in Utah schools.

Hats off to Hart, Halladay and Hill for speaking up despite pressure to go along in silence with the decisions or positions held at the state level.

Before I post the letter, here’s a little background:

Before Common Core testing even began, Utah officially dropped out of SBAC (a federally funded Common Core test maker) but then immediately picked up, as a replacement, test maker  AIR  (American Institutes for Research– also  federally approved, but not federally funded; Common Core-aligned; a test maker that specializes in psychometrics and behavioral testing,  prioritizes promoting the LGTB philosophy –and is officially partnered with SBAC!)  Many Utah parents are opting their children out of these tests, and state level officials are desperately trying to persuade the population that there’s no reason to opt out.

Statements promoting and approving AIR and SAGE, by Assistant Superintendent Judy Park, have been rebutted and even publically debated before– but this new letter stands very, very  tall, shedding much more light on the student privacy dangers of SAGE/AIR and highlighting the lack of Utah laws that protect an individuals’ ownership over his/her own data.

 

Here’s the letter:

 

September 18, 2014

 

Dr. Judy Park

Utah State Office of Education

Dear Dr. Park,

 

Thank you for taking the time to address some of the issues with AIR and SAGE testing.  We especially appreciate your citations of the contract.  In the interest of openness and transparency, we have a point of clarification, as well as some follow-up questions.

To begin, a point of clarification.  Your letter is directed to Superintendent Henshaw who communicated some of our concerns about SAGE and AIR to you.  In your letter, you indicate that “False, undocumented and baseless allegations need to cease.”  We wish to clarify that the concerns expressed by Dr. Henshaw were not coming from him, and, as such, your directive would not be to him but to those of us on the board and our constituents who are raising questions, based on our reading of the AIR contract with USOE.  Because Dr. Henshaw reports to the Alpine School Board and not the other way around, any directive for Dr. Henshaw to rein in these ‘allegations’ from board members or constituents would be inappropriate.  We can appreciate that you are troubled by this, but we would recommend that more information and more discussion would be a preferable way of resolving concerns, as opposed to suggesting that concerned representatives and their consitutents simply remain silent.

So, in that spirit of openness, we have the following clarifications and follow-up questions.

We begin by addressing the sections of the AIR contract cited in your letter of August 14.  It was very much appreciated because these are the same sections of the contract that we have studied.  We were hopeful that there would be additional insight.  Unfortunately, we did not find any assurance in the pages listed.

I-96 – I-98:  This section nicely addresses the physical, network, and software security for the server and test items.  However, the only reference to AIR employees, their ability to access or use any data is left to “Utah’s public records laws, FERPA, and other federal laws.”  FERPA, as many know, has been modified by the US Dept of Education to allow for the sharing of data without parental knowledge or consent as long as it can be justified as an ‘educational program’. Additionally, FERPA only contains penalties for those entities receiving federal funds.  Since Utah is paying directly for SAGE testing, FERPA is a meaningless law in this regard.  Additionally, Utah’s public records laws appear to only address the openness of public records, but are insufficient when it comes to privacy or use of data, including that of a minor.  If there are robust privacy laws in Utah’s public records laws, we would appreciate additional citations.  Please cite the other federal laws that protect the privacy of our students.

I-61:  Addresses the technical protocols for the data transfer, as well as encryption of passwords.  Again, this doesn’t address those who are given access by AIR to the data for whatever purpose.

I-72 – I-73:  Addresses the security of those contractors who will be manually scoring during the pilot testing.  This addresses a particular third-party in a particular role, but not AIR as an entity or its employees, other than this particular instance.

I-85 – I-86:  Addresses the issues of users and roles for the database and USOE updates.  This limits the appropriate access to those of us in Utah, based on whether we are teachers, principals, board members, USOE, etc.  Again, this does not address anything about AIR as an entity or its employees.

While all these security precautions are necessary, and we are grateful they are included, they do nothing to address the particular issues that were raised at the August 12, 2014 Alpine School Board Meeting.  Some of our concerns are as follows:

1)  Prior to the Addendum from March 2014 (for which we are grateful) there was no prohibition on sharing data with a third-party.  As indicated, the changes to FERPA would allow AIR to legally share data with a third-party as long as that sharing was for ‘an educational program’ without parental knowledge or consent.  As such, the addendum now allows for that sharing only with the USOE’s consent.  We are still concerned that parents are not asked to give consent and may not have knowledge of their student’s data being shared.

2) AIR itself is a research firm dedicated to conducting and applying the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation.  As such, they are involved with data collection and evaluation. In the contract and addendum cited, there is nothing that prohibits how AIR or its subsidiary organizations may use, query, analyze or access any or all student data from the SAGE tests in Utah.  They would have access to many data sets from many entities.  They also would have multiple on-going research projects.  There is no prohibition on what inquiries, research or analysis can be done on the data from SAGE testing.  As long as AIR does not profit from the data or share with a third-party without the USOE’s consent, the data is managed by AIR and available for access.  What are the methods in place to prevent AIR from accessing the data for additional research or analysis?  AIR does not need to share the data with a third-party to violate the privacy of a student or a set of students.  However, since they control and manage the database, there is nothing that would prevent this access.

3) There are no prohibitions in the contract regarding behavioral data.  While we realize Mr. Cohen has said the contract does not call for gathering or evaluating behavioral data, and that AIR is not inclined to do so, there are, again, no prohibitions or penalties associated with gathering or evaluating behavioral data.  State law allows for the use of behavioral data in the year-end testing.  So, there are no legal prohibitions on the use or collection of behavioral data.  Since behavioral research is the primary mission of AIR, as indicated by its mission statement, it is a concern for parents.  If AIR has no desire to collect behavioral data as part of the SAGE testing, it should state so explicitly in a legally-binding manner.

4) Many parents have, legally, opted out of SAGE testing for their students.  As such, why is AIR receiving any information on these students?  Parents feel it is a grave violation of their trust by USOE that any data the USOE has received from the schools can be input into the SAGE database, not to mention the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).  There must, at a minimum, be a way for parents to opt out of all sharing of their student’s dat with AIR and the SLDS.  At what point, if any, will student data be purged from the AIR database?  What is the method for demonstrating the data has been properly purged?

Additionally, we appreciate the response of Mr. Cohen to our concerns.  Based on his response, we have the following questions.

1)  Please list the “express purposes” for which the release, sharing or sale of data is not prohibited, per contract.

2) What third parties are AIR “explicitly permitted by the State of Utah” to provide data to?

3) What research has AIR been requested and directed by the Utah State Office of Education to conduct?

4) What entity (or entities) has AIR been authorized by the State of Utah to release data to?

5) Please list the source of the contract that states that AIR is prohibited from releasing data to the federal government.

6) What entity (or entities) have been designated by the USOE to receive data from AIR?

7) The memo does not address companies owned or operated by AIR, which would not be considered third-parties.  Please state, per contract, where AIR does not share data within related party entities.

Finally, we have the following questions related to the validity and reliability of the SAGe testing.  We understand that this information would not be protected by copyright, and therefore, could be provided to us, as elected officials.

1. Normative Sample Details (who took the test)

2. Coefficient Alpha Reliability

3. Content description Validity

4. Differential Item Function Analysis

5. Criterion Prediction Validity

6. Construct Identification Validity

7. Other types of validity scales/constructs that are applicable only to CAT test designs

We appreciate the opportunity to discuss this more in the future.  As those who are responsible to the parents of this district, we feel it is imperative that our concerns are addressed.  And, when all is said and done, it is most important that parents have the opportunity to protect whatever student information they feel is necessary.  Just because parents decide to educate their children in our public school system does not mean that we, as a state government, are entitled to whatever information about their children we feel in necessary.  Parents are still, by state law, primarily responsible for the education and the upbringing of their children.  As such, their wishes and their need to protect information on their students is paramount.  As members of the Alpine School Board, we must represent the different views and concerns of all the parents in our area.  For those who have no concerns, then you may proceed as usual.  For those who do have concerns, it is incumbent on us to raise these questions and to obtain the most accurate information possible.

Thank you for your time, and we look forward to more information in the future.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Halladay

ASD4

Wendy Hart

ASD2

Paula Hill

ASD1

 

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I wish every Utah parent, teacher, student and principal read this letter– and took action!

The time has long passed for blind trust in Dr. Park, in the State Office of Education and in the State School Board. Surely, power holders –in the legislature, in district administrative offices, and in the governor’s office who read this letter– will finally act.

Share this letter!

If Student Data Privacy Isn’t Protected, It Isn’t Protected   1 comment

Data Baby

 

California just passed a bill to protect student privacy.  I want to know why Utah hasn’t done the same thing.  Those few Utah legislators who tried to pass privacy-protecting bills (Jake Anderegg, Brian Greene) were not supported by the majority of Utah politicans.

Why?!

Do we not care about student privacy?

Is privacy not a child’s fundamental, Constitutional right?

What happens when there is no guarantee of basic rights?  Think about how much privacy there is in modern day North Korea, or in China.

Privacy goes hand in hand with liberty, always.  Even in the fiction books and movies –over and over again, the theme is spot on: when government knowledge of every citizen trumps individual privacy, then comes hell.  (See The Giver, Divergent,  Anthem, The Hunger Games, 1984.)

The Fourth Amendment says that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated”.

If the government is forbidden from coming into our homes to peruse our children’s coloring books, photo albums and diaries, why is it permitted to come into our schools to seize and read data gathered there?  Do we even realize how much data is shared by schools with the state?  Look here and here for starters.

Current tracking –without parental consent– of student academic, non-cognitive, behavioral, health, familial, attitudinal, and belief-data, is happening without restraint.  Is this seizure of personal data not an unreasonable seizure of personal effects, forbidden Constitutionally?

It is clear that we must stand up for our children’s privacy rights.  But how?

First, we must define in our Utah laws that student data belongs to the student.   It does not belong to the state.   Currently, the state has made the arrogant assumption that student data belongs to the state.  That means tests, quizzes, homework assignments, and the picture the kindergartnener drew of her family which can easily be psychologically mined for student and family profiling.  Since no student or student’s parent have given written consent to share any data generated by that student, the school has no right to hand it to the state database; the state has no right to hand it to corporate or university “research partners” nor to the federal EdFacts Data Exchange nor to the National Data Collection Model groups.  That is data theft.

Knowledge is power.  Learn, then contact your school board and legislature.

What to say?  Ask them what they’ve done, what they know, what protective laws they can point you to.

Read the following brand new articles on this subject:

1.  California Legislature Passes Stiffest Bill to Protect K-12 Students’ online data - San Jose Mercury News:   http://www.mercurynews.com/education/ci_26444107/online-privacy-california-passes-nations-stiffest-protections-k

2. States Collaborate to Keep Track of Students – Pew Charitable Trusts – http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2014/09/05/states-collaborate-to-keep-track-of-students

3.  What Are Schools Doing With Your Kids’ Data - Yahoo Tech https://www.yahoo.com/tech/what-are-schools-doing-with-your-kids-data-95682103324.html

4. Nine Things You Can Do Right Now to Protect Your Kids’ Privacy at School - Yahoo Tech – https://www.yahoo.com/tech/9-things-you-can-do-right-now-to-protect-your-kids-95681803099.html

 

If you didn’t read them, or if you didn’t email your local school board or legislature yet, asking what they are doing to protect student privacy, I ask you why not.

If you think that our Constitutional rights are secure and that the good folks you elected are out there successfully defending your constitutional rights– including the right to personal and child privacy — think again.  All these rights are under fire.  If we don’t have proper legal protections in place specifying how student data will be protected, then we and our children are fully  un-protected.

The New York Times and Time Magazine have openly attacked and mocked the Constitution– and the rights we claim under it which include, of course, privacy and freedom from seizure of these personal effects.

Freedom and local control and individual rights, these “cool” articles say, are out of data and out of style.

Check them out for yourself:

1 Time Magazine:  http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2079445,00.html

2.  New York Times:  http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/02/07/us/we-the-people-loses-appeal-with-people-around-the-world.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1

By the way, how I found those articles was when a parent emailed them to me, saying that her child was told to write about them for a school assignment.  Thank you, education system, for yet one more corrupt dump into our kids’ minds.

What to do?

Ask yourself, first:  is privacy a fundamental right, or not?  Does the government (or corporations) have business knowing your business or your child’s business, without your consent?  If the answer is no, then ask:  Where can I find a law that protects my child’s school data?  Ask your school board.  Ask your legislator.  If they say “FERPA” tell them to do their homework.  Federal FERPA was shredded a few years back.  Bottom line is:  we need legal protections in place ASAP.  And it won’t happen until the people pressure their representatives to make those protections reality.

Please, speak up.

 

 

 

Protect Your Child’s Privacy –and Happiness– by Opting Out of State Testing   2 comments

—————  On Children’s Privacy ————————–

The insatiable data-hunters at American Institutes for Research (AIR) –who also happen to create Utah’s SAGE/Common Core/Utah Core school tests– seem to qualify as stark enemies of student privacy and parental rights.

Desperate to access personal information about children, AIR  wants us to believe the following lie: “your information is out there anyway, so stop fighting for your child’s right to privacy.”   That’s the gist of  this interview with Julia Lane, a “fellow” at American Institutes for Research (AIR).  It’s short, and a must-see.

 

Jakell Sullivan, a Utah mom, has provided the following commentary on Julia Lane’s interview:

  • “It’s impossible to get informed consent about collecting big-data.” 
    … (TRANSLATION-”We can’t wait for you, the parent, to understand our need to collect your child’s data. We’ll need to change public policies at the federal and state level without your consent. We can unilaterally do this by lobbying legislators to stomp out your parental rights.”)
  • “Google knows where you are every single minute of the day”
    … (TRANSLATION-”We couldn’t let Google have a monopoly over big-data, so we partnered with them in 2012. Now, we can drill down on what your child is doing and thinking. Luckily, your child will be using Google Chromebooks soon to learn and take SAGE tests. Once we get every child on a one-to-one device, we can continuously assess your child’s skills through the technology without them having to take a formal test—or be at school!”)
  • “The private sector has been using the data to make a lot of money.”
    … (TRANSLATION-”We deserve to make obscene amounts of money, too, by tracking your child’s thinking patterns from PreK to Workforce. Then, we can manipulate their education data to spread the wealth right back into our coffers.”)
  • “In the public sector, we tend not to use those data.”
    … (TRANSLATION-”We don’t see a need to follow ethical rules anymore. Everybody else is collecting big-data. We deserve big-data on your child! Your natural right to direct your child’s learning is getting in the way of US doing it. We deserve to control their learning!”)
  • “The good that is being lost is incalculably high.”
    … (TRANSLATION-”We can’t save your child because you won’t let us track their personal learning. We must be able to track what they think from PreK to Workforce—for the good of the collective.”)
  • “The rules that exist are no longer clear and are probably no longer applicable.”
    … (TRANSLATION-”We don’t think federal or state privacy laws are fair. We will unilaterally decide how Utah’s state policies will be changed so that we can track your child’s personal learning styles, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s for the good of the collective, of course!”)

 

This video shows how very wrong we are to buy into AIR at all, or to buy into the current “children live to serve the workforce” movement.

Consent does matter.  Privacy is an important right.  Personal choice shouldn’t be superseded by what so-called “stakeholders” desire.  Governments and corporations don’t have the right to take away  privacy –any more than they have the right to take away your property.  No fluffy argument can trump these inherent rights.

Don’t let them have it!  Don’t give your child’s privacy up so easily!  The more people who opt their children out of taking the high-stakes AIR/SAGE tests, the less information these data hounds will have.

Just today, I was registering my high school student for the upcoming school year, online, and was asked many questions about personal, non-academic things: what languages do we speak at home, whether my child has contact lenses, emotional troubles, what our ethnic background is, and endless medical data questioning.

It was not possible to go to the next screen without saying “yes” or giving out each piece of information.

So I wrote to the school district and complained.  Please do the same.

If many of us stand up, things will not continue to hurtle down the path toward a real-life Orwellian 1984 where privacy can no longer exist.

 

——————–  On Children’s Happiness ————————–

 

Privacy from big-data mining is not the only reason people are opting their children out of state tests.

The other thing that opting your child out of state testing gives you, is a happier child.   The tests are very long and don’t benefit your child.  They are non-educating, are secretive (parents may not see them) and test the experimental Common Core standards rather than legitimate, classic education.  Why participate?  What is in it for your child?

Currently, teachers in Utah are under a gag order; they are not allowed to tell parents that parents have a legal right to opt a child out of state testing.  The fact is that although schools are required by current law to administer these terrible tests, students and parents are under no obligation to take them.  Schools are not allowed to penalize students for opting out, in any way.

Opt out.

Learn more about how and why to boycott SAGE/AIR/Common Core tests, and learn what your legal rights are, as a parent or as a student,  at Utahns Against Common Core.

 

Senator Markey: Letter to Arne Duncan Questioning Student Data Collection Practices   8 comments

markey images

Democratic Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey has written a vital letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about the loss of student privacy under new education reforms. The Senator asks the Secretary eight great questions. My favorite is question #2.a): “Should parents, not schools, have the right to control information about their children?”

Senator Markey’s full letter is posted below. Please share it with your senators and with your state superintendents, who may, by their connection to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and its partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, have sway in getting to real answers more quickly.

Markey letter on data

October 22, 2013

The Honorable Arne Duncan
Secretary
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202

Dear Secretary Duncan:

The efficient collection, analysis and storage of K-12 students’ academic records holds promise for improving scholastic performance and closing the achievement gap. By collecting detailed personal information about students’ test results and learning abilities, educators may find better
ways to educate their students. However, putting the sensitive infomation of students in private hands raises a number of important questions about the privacy rights of parents and their children.

According to a recent article in The New York Times (“Decidir1g Who Sees Students’ Data”, October 5, 2013), a growing number of school districts are outsourcing data storage functions to private companies. This change, the companies assert, will “streamline access to students’ data to bolster the market for educational products”. While better analysis of student reading may, for example, help educators better target the appropriate reading materials to students, disclosure of such information, which mayr extend well beyond the specific private company hired by the school district to a constellation of other firms with which the district does not have a business relationship, raises concerns about the degree to which student privacy mayI be compromised.

Moreover, as the article cited above also explains, sensitive information such as students’ behavior and participation patterns also may be included in files outsourced to third-party data firms and potentially distributed more widely to additional companies without parental consent.

Such loss of parental control over their child’s educational records and performance information could have longstanding consequences for the future prospects of students.

Recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) permit “schools to share student data, without notifying parents, with companies to which they have outsourced core functions like scheduling or data management,” according to the Times article. The infomation shared with private companies mayr vary from infomation such as grades, test scores, and attendance records, to other sensitive data such as disability, ­family relationships, and
disciplinary data.

In an effort to understand the Department’s views on the impact of increased collection and distribution of student data on their privacy, I respectfully request that the Department provide answers to the follow questions:

1) In 2008 and 2011, the Department issued new regulations with respect to FERPA that addressed how schools can outsource core functions such as scheduling or data management and how third parties may access confidential information about students. These changes also permit other government agencies that are not under the direct control of state educational authorities, such as state health departments, to access student infomation. Please explain those changes.

a. Why did the Department make these changes?

b. Did the Department perform any analysis regarding the impact of these changes on student privacy? If yes, please provide it. If not, why not?

2) Has the Department performed an assessment ofthe types of infomation that are shared by schools with third party vendors, including but not limited to Contact information, grades, disciplinary data, test scores, curriculum planning, attendance records, academic subjects, course levels, disabilities, family relationships, and reasons for enrollment? If yes, please provide it. If not, why not?

a. Should parents, not schools, have the right to control infomation about their children even when their data is in the hands of a private company?

b. Do you believe that parents should have the right to choose which infomation is shared by schools with third party vendors and which is kept confidential?

In other words, is it the Department’s view that some elements of personal data are more sensitive than others, and therefore deserve greater protections?

2) Has the Department issued federal standards or guidelines that detail what steps schools should take to protect the privacy of student records that are stored and used by private companies? For example, are there guidelines about access to the information, how long it can be retained, hcw it will be used, whether it will be shared with other parties (including but not limited to colleges to which students apply), and if it can be sold to others? lf yes, please provide those standards 0r guidelines. If not, why not and will the Department undertake the development and issuance of such guidelines?

4) Are there minimization requirements that require private companies to delete information that is not necessary to enhance educational quality for students?

5) Do students and their families continue to have the right to access their personal infomation held by private companies as they would if their personal information were held by educational institutions? If yes, please explain how students and families may exercise this right and how they should be informed of the existence of this right. If not, why not?

6) While there are significant potential benefits associated with better collection and analysis of student data, does the Department believe that there also are possible risks when students’ personal infomation is shared with such ñrms and third parties? If yes, what is the Department doing to mitigate these risks? If not, why not?

7) Does the Department require entities that access student data to have security measures in place, including encryption protocols or other measures, to prevent the loss of or acquisition of data that is transferred between schools and third parties? What security measures does the Department require that private companies have in place to safeguard the data once it is stored in their systems?

8) Does the Department monitor whether these third parties are safeguarding students’ personal infomation and abide by FERPA or guidelines released by the Department? If yes, please explain. If not, why not?

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Please provide written responses to these questions no later than November 12, 2013. If you have any questions, please have a member of your staff contact Joseph Wender on Senator Markey’s staff at 202-224-2742.

Sincerely,

Edward J. Markey
United States Senator

———————————————

Thank you, Senator Markey.

Alabama School Board Fights For Childrens’ Privacy   3 comments

Betty-Peters- -Alabama-State-Board-of-Education_

Betty Peters of the Alabama State School Board is fighting for the privacy rights of children in Alabama by requesting documentation about what types of information is currently being disclosed without parental consent, and to whom.

Below are draft versions of the requests.

For more information about the shredding of parental rights under previously protective federal FERPA laws, see the lawsuit currently raging against the Department of Education, brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. I have written about this issue previously as have many other people.

————————————————————————

Memo to Alabama State Board Members:

Since there is a debate without documentation about the use of data on our students of whether personally identifiable data is released on our students, we must request the following documents to clarify and end this discussion. Once we have documents that would substantiate the use of redisclosure of data, personally
identifiable information, PII, that the US Department of Education now allows under FERPA, we can better resolve the issues and take steps to protect our children in the state of Alabama. I am requesting and demanding that all documents requested herein, be given to each State Board Members and legislators, and only then, can we make decisions to protect our students and their families. All meetings and debates should be tabled until documents are received from the Department, and/or under the Freedom of Information Act that will prove one way or another, that will substantiate whether personally identifiable information can be used or not be used without the informed written permission of parents. These documents will provide the basis of our decisions and requests to our legislators of what should be done to protect student privacy.

Sincerely,

Betty Peters

————————————————————————————-

Request for Documents, Written Agreements, Cooperative Agreements

RE: Redisclosure of Personally Identifiable Information on Students According to 99.31 of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA Unknown to Parents and Legislators

Request the Cooperative Agreements between the US Department of Education and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, to determine the use of redisclosed personally identifiable information, PII, used to evaluate individual students toward Common Core Standards.

Request the Cooperative agreement with the Department of Education allowing Florida to be the fiscal agent for each of the states in the PARCC consortium. Request the Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Education allowing Washington to be the negotiating partner for each state in the Smarter Balanced Assessment consortium.

Request the Memorandum of Understanding between Washington state as the negotiating partner, and WestEd, the project management partner, that has access to redisclosed personally identifiable information, PII, for each state in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Request the Memorandum of Understanding between Florida, and Achieve, Inc., Florida as acting fiscal agent for the PARCC consortium and Achieve, Inc as project management partner. Please submit all written agreements allowing access to redisclosed personally identifiable information , PII, for each state.

Request any written agreements, memorandums of understanding, or cooperative agreements Alabama or other states not using PARCC or Smarter Balanced Assessment, has with the US Department of Education, ACT (Aspire, Explore, or Plan,) and/or Pearson, that has access to redisclosed personally identifiable information, PII,
used to evaluate individual students toward Common Core Standards.

Request any written agreements, memorandums of understanding, or cooperative agreements with other contractors who have been given redisclosed PII on student data to develop curriculum, computer adaptive digital software, and/or any testing development. These “school officials” may be identified as private sector contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom an agency or institution has outsourced services or functions, including, non-profit organizations, corporations, or businesses to develop curriculum and/ or computer adaptive resources for individual students. These contractors may include Microsoft, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ETS, & ACT. Please submit any written agreements that allow access to PII, which was unlocked by order of President Obama, Office of Science and Technology Policy Executive Office of the President, January 19, 2012

Request the purchase agreement and amount for each written agreement between any “school official” and the US Department of Education, PARCC, and/or Smarter Balanced Assessment, for the purchase of obtained redisclosed data on personally identifiable information, PII, on individual students to develop curricula or computer
digital programming or testing materials.

Request any Requests for Proposal, RFP, or Written Agreements between any private sector working group, defined as a “school official” in FERPA, 99.31, including PARCC, Smarter Balanced Assessment, Wested, or Achieve, ACT or ETS, who are developing and expanding Common Core Standards to new individualized criteria to “
improve instruction”, called, CCCR, College Career Citizenship Readiness, in which Citizenship, measures dispositions. Source: http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/ILN%20Knowledge%20Skills%20and%20Dispositions%20CCR%20Framework%20February%202013.pdf

Request any memorandums of understanding or cooperative agreements to test and measure disposition test items that are ” difficult to measure” and may infringe on personal privacy rights, violate federal law for redisclosing psychological information without informed written parental consent.

Request any memorandums of understanding or cooperative agreements that may be used as identifiers for interventions for changing dispositions or improving instruction, without the informed written consent of the parent violating privacy laws, personal liberty, and illegal access to mental health criteria.

Request sample test items or test blueprints with scoring criteria that will measure dispositions and values in the new College Career Citizenship Ready Standards, CCCR, that are being introduced to the Common Core Standards by the CCSSO.

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Working Draft:

Put this letter in writing to clarify requests:

Since there is a debate without documentation about the use of data on our students of whether personally identifiable data is released on our students, we must request the following documents to clarify and end this discussion. Once we have documents that would substantiate the use of Redisclosure of data, personally identifiable information, PII, that the US Department of Education now allows under FERPA, we can better resolve the issues and take steps to protect our children in the state of Alabama. I am requesting and demand that all documents requested herein, be given to each State Board Member, and only then, can we make decisions to protect our students and their families. All debates should be tabled until documents are received from the Department, and/or under the Freedom of Information Act that will prove one way or another, that will substantiate whether personally identifiable information can be used or not without the written permission of parents. These documents will provide the basis of our decisions and requests to our legislators of what
should be done to protect student privacy.

Other questions to be answered:

Was Congressional authority given to expand FERPA regulations concerning redisclosed access of data and the flow of personally identifiable information, PII to outside contractors?

Which federal law expanded FERPA to include all outside contractors as “school officials” to have access to personally identifiable information, PII,on students without the informed written consent of parents or legislators?

Why was the Hanson Memorandum rescinded in the ‘‘direct control’’ requirement contained in the policy guidance on authorized representatives allowing the flow of personally identifiable information to outside organizations, corporations, non-profits, and business to have access to personally identifiable information, PII?

Request the Presidential Executive Order providing that FERPA regulations were to be revised and changed to unlock data and allow re-disclosure of personally identifiable information, PII, to outside contractors.

Do outside contractors pay for the data? Examples:

• If outside for-profit contractors are developing tests, assessments, curriculum, or computer software to meet individual specific outcomes aligned to the Common Core Standards, including non-cognitive areas called dispositions, do these contractors pay for the data or intellectual property rights taken from individual students to research and develop testing, assessments, curriculum, and adaptive software to be re-sold to
states and individual schools for use in the classroom?

• If non-profit contractors are developing tests, assessments, curriculum, or computer software to meet individual specific outcomes aligned to the Common Core Standards, including non-cognitive areas called dispositions, do they pay for intellectual property rights? Are they violating their non-profit status to make a profit when these items that they are developing are re-sold to states and individual schools
for use in the classroom?

• Are individual states co-contributors to Redisclosure of PII?

• Is the National Center for Education Statistics co-contributors to Redisclosure of PII?

Whitehouse Unlocks Data:see source http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ed_data_commitments_1-19-12.pdf

FERPA sections allowing Re-Disclosure of PII

§ 99.31 Under what conditions is prior consent not required to disclose information?

(a) An educational agency or institution may disclose personally identifiable information from an education record of a student without the consent required by § 99.30 if the disclosure meets one or more of the following conditions:

(1)(i)(A) The disclosure is to other school officials, including teachers, within the agency or institution

whom the agency or institution has determined to have legitimate educational interests.

(B) A contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions may be considered a school official under this paragraph provided that the outside party—

( 1 ) Performs an institutional service or function for which the agency or institution would otherwise use
employees;

( 2 ) Is under the direct control of the agency or institution with respect to the use and maintenance of

education records; and ( 3 ) Is subject to the requirements of § 99.33(a) governing the use and redisclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.

§ 99.31(ii) Paragraph (a)(5)(i) of this section does not prevent a State from further limiting the number or
type of State or local officials to whom disclosures may be made under that paragraph.

(6)(i) The disclosure is to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to:

(A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;

(B) Administer student aid programs; or

(C) Improve instruction.

Without Authority: The Federal Access of Private Data Using Common Core   5 comments

Data Baby


On Wednesday, I gave this talk at the Governor Hill Mansion in Augusta, Maine. I spoke alongside Erin Tuttle, Indiana mother against Common Core; Jamie Gass, of Pioneer Institute; Heidi Sampson, board member of the Maine State School Board, and Erika Russell, Maine mother against Common Core. I hope to publish the other speakers’ speeches here soon.

——————————————————-

Speaking with legislators in Utah, I’ve learned that the number one concern that Utah constituents repeatedly bring up to representatives is the Common Core and its related data mining.

Utah has not yet followed the lead of Indiana, Michigan and other states in pausing and/or defunding the Common Core, but I believe Utah legislators will soon take a stand. They have to; the state school board and governor won’t, even though the Utah GOP voted on and passed an anti-common core resolution this year, and even though thousands of Utahns are persistently bringing up documented facts to their leaders showing that Common Core damages local liberties and damages the legitimate, classical education tradition that Utahns have treasured.

My talk today will explain how federal data mining is taking place with the assistance of the Common Core initiative.

………………………

The Declaration of Independence states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed”.

So, I ask: Have voters given consent to be governed in matters of education, by the federal government? Nope.

Does the federal government hold any authority to set educational standards and tests, or to collect private student data?

Absolutely not.

The Constitution reserves all educational authority to the states; the General Educational Provisions Act expressly prohibits the federal government from controlling, supervising or directing school systems; and the Fourth Amendment claims “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”.

Clearly, the federal government lacks authority to search private data, to produce common tests, or to promote common standards, yet using private institutions, secretive regulatory changes to privacy laws, long-winded grantmaking contracts, and a well-intentioned governors’ club and superintedents’ club as smokescreens, it is overstepping its bounds and is falsely assuming these powers.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is fully aware of these limitations placed upon his agency.

This summer Duncan made another speech, saying critics of Common Core were making outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”</strong>

I need to get that quote cross-stitched and framed.

For years, Duncan has been saying that, “Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more…”

Translation: Duncan and Obama won’t let pesky laws nor the U.S. Constitution stop them from their control grab even though they’re fully aware of the laws of the land.

Are they really collecting student data without parental knowledge or consent?

How are the Common Core standards and tests involved?
There are at least six answers.

The U.S. Department of Education is:

1. STUNTING STANDARDS WITH A PRIVATE COPYRIGHT AND A 15% CAP FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRACKING STUDENTS:

Why would the federal government want to stunt education? Why would they say to any state, “Don’t add more than 15% to these common standards.” ? Simple: they can’t track and control the people without a one-size-measures-all measuring stick. It is irrelevant to them that many students will be dumbed down by this policy; they just want that measure to match so they can track and compare their “human capital.”

The federal Department of Education works intimately with the Superintendents’ club known as the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). After the CCSSO wrote and copyrighted the Common Core standards –in partnership with the governors’ club (NGA)– the federal government put a cap over that copyright, saying that all states who adopted Common Core must adhere to it exactly, not adding any more than 15% to those standards, regardless of the needs, goals or abilities of local students. This stunting is embarrassing and most state boards of education try to deny it. But it’s published in many places, both federal and private: That 15% cap is reiterated in the federal Race to the Top Grant, the federal NCLB Waiver, the federal Race to the top for Assessments grant, the SBAC testing consortia criteria, the PARCC eligibility requirement, the Achieve, Inc rules (Achieve Inc. is the contractor who was paid by CCSSO/NGA/Bill Gates to write the standards).

2. CREATING MULTIPLE NATIONAL DATA COLLECTION MECHANISMS

a) Cooperative Agreement with Common Core Testers

In its Cooperative Agreement with the testing group known as Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) the federal government mandated that tests “Comply with… requirements… including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis… subject to applicable privacy laws.” Making student-level data available means that personally identifiable student information, such as name, academic scores, contact information, parental information, behavioral information, or any information gathered by common core tests, will be available to the federal government when common core tests begin.

b) Edfacts Data Exchange

Another federal data collection mechanism is the federal EDFACTS data exchange, where state databases submit information about students and teachers so that the federal government can “centralize performance data” and “provide data for planning, policy and management at the federal, state and local levels”. Now, they state that this is just aggregated data, such as grouped data by race, ethnicity or by special population subgroups; not personally identifiable student information. But the federal agency asks states to share the intimate, personally identifiable information at the NCES National Data Collection Model

c) National Data Collection Model

It asks for hundreds and hundreds of data points, including:

your child’s name
nickname
religious affiliation
birthdate
ability grouping
GPA
physical characteristics
IEP
attendance
telephone number
bus stop times
allergies
diseases
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
delinquent status
referral date
nonschool activity involvement
meal type
screen name
maternal last name
voting status
martial status
– and even cause of death.

People may say that this is not mandatory federal data collection. True; yet it’s a federal data model and many are following it.

d) CCSSO and EIMAC’s DATA QUALITY CAMPAIGN and Common Educational Data Statistics

The Dept. of Education is partnered with the national superintendents’ club, the CCSSO in a common data collection push: common data standards are asked for at the website called Common Education Data Standards, which is “a joint effort by the CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education.

Also at the same CCSSO site (remember, this is a private Common Core-creators’ website, and not a voter-accountable group) CCSSO we learn that the CCSSO runs a program called the Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) with this purpose: “improve the overall quality of the data collected at the NATIONAL level.” – See more at: http://www.ccsso.org/What_We_Do/Education_Data_and_Information_Systems.html#sthash.L2t0sFCm.dpuf

The CCSSO’s Data Quality Campaign has said that
“as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”

Let that sink in: linking data from schools, medical clinics, and criminal justice systems is the goal of the USDOE-CCSSO partnership.

And it’s already begun.

There are state data alliances that connect data in state agencies, and there are federal data alliances, too. In Utah, the Utah Data Alliance uses the state database to link six agencies that enables examination of citizens from preschool through the workforce. On the federal level, the Department of Defense has partnered with the Department of Education.

3. PROMOTING CORPORATE DATA COLLECTION

Data-mashing across federal agencies and is not the only way in which data is becoming accessible by greater numbers of eyes. It’s also across corporate entities that data sharing is becoming more and more of a push.

At a recent White House event called “Datapalooza,” the CEO of Escholar stated that Common Core is the “glue that actually ties everything together.” Without the aligned common standards, corporate-aligned curriculum, and federally-structured common tests, there would be no common measurement to compare and control children and adults.

4. BUILDING A CONCEALED NATIONAL DATABASE BY FUNDING 50 STATE DATABASES THAT ARE INTEROPERABLE

Every state now has a state longitudinal database system (SLDS) that was paid for by the federal government. Although it might appear not to be a national database, I ask myself why one of the conditions of getting the ARRA funds for the SLDS database was that states had to build their SLDS to be interoperable from school to district to state to inter-state systems. I ask myself why the federal government was so intent upon making sure every state had this same, interoperable system. I ask myself why the grant competition that was offered to states (Race to the Top) gave out more points to those states who had adopted Common Core AND who had built an SLDS. It appears that we have a national database parading as fifty individual SLDS systems.

5. SHREDDING FEDERAL PRIVACY LAW AND CRUSHED PARENTAL CONSENT REQUIREMENT

There was, up until recently, an old, good federal law called FERPA: Family Educational Rights Privacy Act. It stated, among other things, that no one could view private student data without getting written parental consent.

That was then. This is now.

Without getting permission from Congress to alter the privacy law, the Department of Education made so many regulatory changes to FERPA that it’s virtually meaningless now. The Department of Ed loosened terms and redefined words such as “educational agency,” “authorized representative,” and “personally identifiable information.” They even reduced “parental consent” from a requirement to a “best practice.”

The Department of Ed formally defined the term “biometric” on a list of ways a student would be personally identified: “Biometric record,” as used in the definition of “personally identifiable information,” means a record of one or
more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be
used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include
fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.

For all of this, the Department has been sued.

6. RELEASING A REPORT PROMOTING BIOLOGICAL AND BEHAVIORAL DATAMINING TECHNIQUES

In his speech to the American Society of News Editors this year, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that there is no federal collection of student data, and then he said, “Let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping. This work is interesting, but frankly, not that interesting.”

This was another attempt to mock those who are doing their homework, and to further deceive the American people. Because biometric data mining (biometric is defined by the Dept. of Ed as biological and behavioral characteristics of students –see above–) is exactly what Duncan is advocating. In the 2013 Department of Education report entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” the federal government recommends the use of data-mining techniques that use physical responses from biofeedback devices to measure mood, blood volume, pulses and galvanic skin responses, to examine student frustration and to gather “smile intensity scores.” Using posture analysis seats, a pressure mouse, wireless skin conductors, schools are encouraged to learn which students might lack “grit, tenacity and perserverance” in engaging with, or in believing, what is being taught.

Grit sensors

We can call the bluff on the Department of Education and on the Council of Chief State School Officers. They have no authority to gather private student data without parental knowledge or consent. We can help state leaders understand and fight against what is going on, and help them to say no to what the CCSSO terms their “coordinated data ask.” Strong legislation can be written and SLDS systems can be reworked to end privacy threatening interoperability frameworks.

Here’s a To-Do list for state representatives:

— We can stop the 50 states’ SLDS interoperability.

— We can make it possible for parents and students to opt out of the Common Core tests without penalizing the student academically.

— We can make it possible for parents and students to opt out of the SLDS tracking and surveillance databases.

— We can stop the educational and data mining malpractice that is clearly happening under the Common Core Initiative, remembering what Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University said: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”

We, the People, have to call them on it.

Right Under Our Noses: EIMAC   16 comments

My heart was pounding with indignation when I read today that the CCSSO (–that’s the State Superintendents’ Club– a private group, not accountable to the public and in no way under voters’ influence– the same group that created and copyrighted Common Core–) this CCSSO has a division called EIMAC. It stands for Education Information Management Advisory Consortium.

Why was my heart pounding? 2 reasons:

1) EIMAC’s formation is even more proof that America is being led into a system of nonrepresentative governance, an un-American, nonvoting system.

2) U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is a liar, a deliberate, conscious liar. (I only dare make such an awful accusation because it’s obvious to anyone who does even a small amount of fact checking on his statements.)

So let me explain. EIMAC declares, out loud, that its purpose is to network state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; EIMAC advocates to improve the overall quality of the data collected at the NATIONAL level - See the rest at: http://www.ccsso.org/What_We_Do/Education_Data_and_Information_Systems.html#sthash.UZIBs53C.dpuf

Ah, did they just say: DATA COLLECTED AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL?!??

Does anyone remember that earlier this summer, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a speech to the American Society of News Editors, in which he claimed that there is NO NATIONAL COLLECTION OF STUDENT DATA?

Secretary Duncan’s exact words were these:

“Critics… make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”

FACT: Duncan collects student level data directly from the Common Core testing consortia, as mandated in his Cooperative Agreement with these testing groups.

FACT: Duncan collects K-12 state school data directly at the federal EdFacts Exchange.

FACT: Duncan collects personally identifiable information indirectly via the 50 federally paid-for, fully interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS) that could be called a separated, but interlocking, national database in matchable segments.

FACT: Duncan has direct access to personally identifiable information indirectly via the National Data Collection Model, Data Quality Campaign, and Common Educational Data Statistics.

FACT: Most angering of all, Duncan circumvented Congress to destroy the power of the longstanding federal privacy law called FERPA. His damages there mean that parents have no guarantee, no legal stand, no rule saying that they MUST be asked for consent, before their child’s personally identifiable information will be accessed by governmental and corporate “stakeholders” who have been redefined as “authorized representatives.”

The longitudinal databases don’t just track students; they track people throughout their careers. This is lifelong citizen tracking, without our vote, without our consent, and without most people’s knowledge.

Secretary Duncan has made the unconscienable, legal.

He’s done what he’s done with the blessing of President Obama, whose four pillars of education reform are stated to alter these four things: COMMON STANDARDS, GREATER CONTROL OF TEACHERS, and ALTERING OR CLOSING OF SCHOOLS, and DATA COLLECTION.

Right Under Our Noses.

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