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Opening the student-data floodgates
To prepare for assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards, districts across the country are investing in software to analyze individual student performance in detail, reports Natasha Singer in The New York Times. The company inBloom wants to speed introduction and lower the costs of these assessment tools by standardizing data storage and security. inBloom's open-source code could facilitate universal apps, reducing customization for each district and theoretically making software cheaper. For believers in data-driven education, consolidating and analyzing data that districts already collect makes common sense. Yet inBloom also raises questions about mass-scale surveillance of students. Changes in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act allow schools to share student data with companies to which they outsource functions like scheduling or data management -- without notifying parents. "It's an experiment in centralizing massive metadata on children to share with vendors," says parent Rachel Strickland, "and then the vendors will profit by marketing their learning products, their apps, their curriculum materials, their video games, back to our kids." inBloom has no oversight by a publicly elected body, and the company has said districts must define their own legitimate uses for data and develop policies to manage them. It announced in February that nine states, representing more than 11 million students, will test its technology. More
Source: Public Education News Blast
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