Smarter Balanced and On-Line Monitoring of Students. Did it Learn Anything from the Pearson/New Jersey Incident?
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The kerfuffle about Pearson contacting the New Jersey Department of Education to determine the identity of a student who tweeted about the PARCC test was a much discussed topic last week. It has been discovered that the state of New Jersey is paying approximately $97,000 to Pearson for searching social media, which in turn, sub-contracted this work to another company, Caveon. From nj.com:
Searching the internet for test leaks is not uncommon in the testing world, especially following professional certification and licensure tests as well and in the days before the SATs, test security experts said. Over the past three years, Caveon has picked up a handful of contracts to protect state exams as testing has become more high-stakes, Addicott said.
But Assemblyman Ralp Caputo (D-Essex) said Thursday he was shocked that a third party is investigating what New Jersey students in grades 3-11 are posting online.
“We don’t know whether they are good people, we don’t know whether they are bad people,” Caputo said. “We have no idea who they are.”
Smarter Balanced testing will not start in Missouri until the end of March, however, it has started in Connecticut during this past week. From a Connecticut blogsite jonathonpelto.com:
Read the following statement that was provided to all states administering the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Tests;
Please note that the social media Web sites are being monitored by Smarter Balanced Communications staff members.
In fact, the SBAC consortium has enlisted the help of state governments, school districts, schools and test administrators to participate in their spying operation.
Here is the information from SBAC on its social monitoring policies. As Missouri is using SBAC testing questions, it should be a safe assumption that this SBAC statement would include testing procedures in Missouri:
Be sure to read in the blog who else has access to the data of Connecticut students and the subsequent breaches of this data.
We have a request to The Missouri Office of Administration for any contract between the Missouri Department of Education, SBAC, Pearson and/or McGraw Hill which details any such agreement that permits access of personal student information from the state agency to a private organization. The outrage from New Jersey parents and legislators caused a change in Pearson’s using personal identifiable information to punish a student’s presumed free speech. As the nj.com article stated:
Pearson will continue to search online for leaks of PARCC test questions, but the testing company will no longer use student information supplied by schools in its efforts to identify the source of online posts, according to a spokesperson.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium — a group of states including New Jersey that share the same standardized tests — told Pearson on Tuesday to stop cross referencing names on social media profiles with a list of students scheduled to take the online exams, Pearson spokesman Jesse Comart said.
…The company’s security measures drew criticism this week after it was revealed that the state Department of Education contacted Watchung Hills Regional High School District about a student’s PARCC-related tweet. The American Federation of Teachers launched a petition demanding Pearson stop online searches for test breaches and the chairman of the state Assembly Education Committee called the searches “unacceptable.”
If you allow your student to take the SBAC test, it would be wise to find out from your state educational agency and school district what their understanding of SBAC’s policies will be for social media tracking and how it will respond to any suspected breaches. It would also behoove you to determine how many contractors and subcontractors are tracking your children even if they are not using social media.