Cogs in the Machine: Big Data, Common Core, and National Testing,” exposes “an idea that dates back to the Progressive era.”
|GOVERNMENT EXPERTS CONFERENCING ON EDUCATION AND TRAINING|
Though violations of citizen privacy have become major news stories of late, the federal government has urged private sector design of student data collection systems at the same time it encourages individual states to participate in data collection initiatives such as the Data Quality Campaign, theEarly Childhood Data Collaborative, and the National Student Clearinghouse, all of which help to increase the collection and sharing of children’s data.
National Education Data Model suggests that states provide for the collection of over 400 data points on every child in the construction of their data systems.
The U.S. Department of Education (USED), however, in its report published last year and titled "Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance," expressed a strong interest in monitoring students’ “beliefs, attitudes, dispositions, values and ways of perceiving oneself” and to measure non-cognitive attributes such as their “psychological resources.”
“This sort of character development and monitoring has traditionally been the domain of parents,” says “Cogs in the Machine” co-author Pullmann, research fellow of the Heartland Institute. “But the Grit report clearly implies that families can’t be trusted to inculcate values and attitudes.”
“The manufacturers of these technologies certainly know what they mean for classrooms,” Robbins said. “But few teachers are aware of it and even fewer parents are.”
Pioneer Institute notes the connections between the Common Core standards and the student data collection.
“Any information from the data initiatives mentioned above that is given to the two federally funded national assessment consortia aligned with the Common Core State Standards will be made available to the USED,” Pioneer observes.
Authors McGroarty, Pullmann, and Robbins suggest that, to protect children’s privacy, parents should ask the types of information that are being collected on digital-learning platforms and whether the software will record data about their children’s behavior and attitudes as well as academic knowledge. Parents should opt out if they object to such data collection.Furthermore, the authors urge state lawmakers to pass student privacy laws and Congress to correct the 2013 relaxation of FERPA.
“A person’s right to his own information must be considered a property right. Especially in the area of education, laws must change to grant parents control over the collection and disclosure of their children’s data,” the authors write. “And parents must educate themselves about what is really happening in the schools, so that they can know what types of data are being collected and what is done with it. Parents must be empowered to draw the line.”