According to the United States Department of Education, their longitudinal data systems cover any system put in place within an individual state that will “capture, analyze, and use student data from preschool to high school, college, and the workforce.”
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds these programs, which must contain, among other things, a unique identifier for each student. (This, according to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is information that provides any random person the ability to identify the student with relative certainty, and may include name, date of birth, address, and social security number.)
Also, the studies include test score information, a way to match teachers and their students, and the ability to share data across all grade levels.
The benefits, as stated by the U.S. Department of Education, are:
Schools will be able to ensure students are prepared for both college and the workplace.
Schools can identify and reward teachers who are doing exceptionally well, and help teachers who are struggling to improve.
Who Can Access This National Student Database?
This data-collection program began in 2005. Many states have such a program already in place today, so why is there sudden concern connecting a student database to the common core?
FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, guaranteed originally that third parties could not access the information that schools collected on children. This means that only parents and the school could access it. In 2012, however, the Department of Education changed this rule so that any government or government-appointed entity has access to the student’s information under the guise of “evaluating an education program.” Additionally, post-secondary institutes and workforce education programs can access the information.
Lawsuit to Protect Student Privacy
The Electronic Privacy Information Center took this change so seriously, they have brought a lawsuit against the Department of Education as of July 23, 2013. The idea is that individual student’s data is now no longer private and protected, but collected in a convenient central location for any number of people to access without permission from the students or their parents.
Which Details are States Collecting on Your Kids?
States are getting more and more cohesive in the details of what data they collect on students, and 46 states currently have a database to track students from preschool through the workforce (P-20W). Likewise, any state that adopts the Common Core Standards will implement, access, and use a statewide longitudinal data system for the purpose of improving instruction. It is also worth reminding parents here that states had a huge financial incentive to adopt the Common Core Standards.
Additionally, the Department of Education’s National Center of Education Statistics shows intent to expand the cradle-to-grave data collected on each child to include various topics including health care availability, religion, political affiliation if applicable, and even your family’s income. All this alongside additional student attributes including disposition, social skills, attitudes, and previous disciplinary problems.
Concerns regarding a Nationwide Database of Students’ Private Information
At the very bottom of the issue is that of child safety. Parents, responsible for the safety and well-being of their children, need to ensure a certain amount of anonymity for their child. This reduces chances of identity theft, for one, and likewise it ensures that a child’s past does not unfairly influence a child’s future.
Allowing post-secondary schools, for example, to have access to a child’s preschool and grade school records does not allow for that child to stand out and be an individual without the past weighing him or her down. Wouldn’t it also be terrible for a negative assessment in high school, buried in that comprehensive educational history, to keep your child from getting a job someday?
A simple solution would be for parent to opt out of the data collection. Parents can opt out of everything from Vaccines to school lunches. But opting out may not be quite as simple as that. In fact, because of the requirement for the use of such a database system upon the acceptance of the Common Core Standards, in order to receive Federal monies, schools cannot allow parents attending the school to opt out.
US Department of Education. Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems. (2009). Accessed on September 24, 2013.
National Center for Education Statistics. P-20W Data Governance. (2012).
National Center for Education Statistics. National Education Data Model. (2013).
Electronic Privacy Information Center. EPIC to Defend Student Privacy Rights in Court. (2013). Accessed on September 24, 2013.
Pullmann, Joy. Data Mining Kids Crosses Lines. (2013). The Heartland Institute. Accessed on September 24, 2013.
Tipton, Katie and Estrada, Will. The Dawning Database: Does the Common Core Lead to National Data Collection? (2013). HSLDA. Accessed on September 24, 2013.
Berry, Susan, PhD. Parents Refused Right to Opt-out of Children’s Private Data-Sharing. (2013). Breitbart. Accessed on September 24, 2013.
Public Schools of North Carolina. North Carolina: Leading the Way in P-20W Data Systems. (2011). Accessed on September 24, 2013.© Copyright 2013 Jennifer Wagaman, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Parenting