The law of the land, Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA, got something right: we shouldn’t be collecting information about how students feel, their personal beliefs, their attitudes.

From ESSA, page 24-25:

(B) REQUIREMENTS.—The assessments under subparagraph (A) shall— (iii) be used for purposes for which such assessments are valid and reliable, consistent with relevant, nationally recognized professional and technical testing standards, objectively measure academic achievement, knowledge, and skills, and be tests that do not evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes, or publicly disclose personally identifiable information;

Share this little tidbit of ESSA with your legislators and state and local education boards. Also remind them that plenty of folks are also looking at these other laws that edtech and student data collection may be circumventing.
One has to wonder how data collection via  Social-Emotional-Learning and measuring 21st Century skills and “grit” will factor into this ESSA language.  This statement in ESSA should also be addressed when considering blended learning, adaptive learning, online personalized learning–whatever you want to call the big push for embedded data collection via Competency Based Education, CBE and formative online tests.
Congressman Jared Polis recently mentioned this technology data privacy concern while speaking at a hearing with John King, the nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education.   You can listen to this short snippet here.
 john king protect privacy
Congressman Polis asks John King how ESSA will balance the issues of over-testing, and states with new “blended learning”, new edtech testing,  we must protect students and address data privacy issues.
When dealing with online applications in the classroom, we really need to always consider privacy and security of the student’s data.  Consider how rapidly technology has advanced and how little the laws actually protect student data– as we wait for a federal law to “Fix FERPA”.   FERPA is the 40-year-old Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act which badly needs an update.
“…technology cloaks what’s really going on with data, and the public needs to know what’s happening.”Tracy Mitrano,
We suggest you take a few minutes to watch this important video  from a 2015 Congressional Hearing on Student Data Privacy. (Start at 1 hour mark and watch for a few minutes, if you don’t have time to watch it all.)
video student cloud

The witnesses featured in this Congressional panel: Ms. Shannon Sevier National PTA, Ms. Allyson Knox Microsoft, Dr. Sheryl R. Abshire Chief Technology Officer Parish Public School- Louisiana, and Mr. Joel R. Reidenberg Fordham Center Law Information Policy.

The video reminds us of these facts:
FERPA does not cover data.
FERPA does not apply to third party vendors.
FERPA allows data to be shared without parental consent.
Digital profiles are going to guide children’s opportunities and parents should be involved.
The data collected on students is like George Orwell to the Nth degree.
Without data transparency and trust, technology in the classroom will not move forward.

Cheri Kiesecker

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