https://tinyurl.com/SAToptional-info

Reminder for parents: you do NOT have to give this data marketer additional information about your child.  SAT testing is around the corner and Colorado schools and the Colorado Department of Education are advising parents and students that the SAT College Board questionnaire and the College Board’s Student Search Service are optional. 

As quoted in this College Board consent form and 2018 PSAT Student Guide, when a  student takes the test they must only supply this required information:

“The required information covers the basics (name, school, state student ID, grade, sex, and date of birth). “

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Consider all the personal data being profiled and marketed.

Parents should know that the College Board sells licenses for students’ information to colleges for marketing purposes.  The Student Search Service does not share a student’s SAT scores with colleges; instead, Student Search is a marketing tool.  Schools and parents should also know that the College Board confirms  “If a student does not opt in to Student Search Service it will not impact their chances at being accepted into colleges or scholarship programs in any way.  This should be conveyed to all parents, printed on instructions, every test booklet, and website.

If you are unfamiliar with the College Board’s practices of selling and licensing student data, read this March 2017 Washington Post article,  How the SAT and PSAT collect personal data on students — and what the College Board does with it  which explains,

”what many parents and schools do not know is that their student’s personal data, including “geographic, attitudinal and behavioral information” can be profiled and accessed by organizations via a license they purchase from the College Board. Yet the College Board’s privacy policy to parents and students claims they do not sell student data. Rather, they sell a license to access a student’s personal data. What is the difference? Indeed, this distinction seems only semantical.

The College Board sells licenses to access the data through a tagging service called College Board Search. The Segment Analysis Service™ is one of three featured tools of the Search, along with the Enrollment Planning Service™, and the Student Search Service®. These are “enhanced tools for smart recruitment.  

The pricing for the College Board Search student data tagging service is $0.42 cents per student, and allows college admission professionals to identify prospective students based on factors such as zip code and race and to Leverage profiles of College Board test-takers for all states, geomarkets, and high schools.”

Remarkably, there is no federal law prohibiting the sale of personal student data. However, there is a self-policed software industry privacy pledge in which signers promise not to sell a student’s personal information. The College Board has signed this pledge. In addition, like many other states that have recently enacted student data privacy laws, Colorado’s student data transparency and security law also prohibits vendors from selling personal student data…”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit privacy watchdog group, EFF also questions the College Board’s practices of selling student data in their comments to  Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Education’s Student Privacy and Ed Tech workshop on December 1, 2017.

EFF states,

“We have received other complaints from parents who believe that signatories are not following the Student Privacy Pledge. For example, the College Board is a signatory, yet it sells student information. While students must opt into the Student Search Service, the relevant Pledge commitment has no qualifying clauses; it simply states that signatories will “not sell student personal information.”

 

Students with disabilities are not so lucky.

As wonderful that it is that the College Board is finally alerting parents and schools as to which information is optional,  students with disabilities are still required to give the College Board access to their personal disability records, without limitation.

As we wrote about previously, an important unresolved issue with the College Board’s data collection practices involves students with disabilities. When taking the PSAT,  SAT,  or AP exams, in order for a student’s IEP or 504 accommodations to be honored by the College Board, parents must consent to the College Board’s access without limitation to personal information in their child’s disability records, which often contain sensitive medical and mental health information. Parents must also consent to allowing the College Board to review and “consult with other medical and/or educational professionals on staff or contracted by College Board”  and may also share this disability information with third party vendors.  If parents do not agree to this, their student’s scores will not be considered valid by the College Board and cannot be submitted for college entrance requirements or scholarship opportunities.  Considering that most colleges and universities require SAT or ACT scores as a condition of admittance and the state of Colorado like others mandates that students take the SAT and PSAT, this puts students with disabilities at a disadvantage,  if not and ethical and legal dilemma. Rather than allowing state or school district officials to review and verify a student’s accommodations, as they do with other state mandated assessments, by requiring students  to waive their rights under FERPA and IDEA is the College Board denying disabled students’ civil rights, as this 2016 EdWeek piece suggests?  

Will the College Board or watchdog groups address this discriminatory and unethical practice?

 

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Cheri Kiesecker

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