Thursday, October 10, 2013

Student Privacy Concerns- inBloom revisited

The NY Times article, "Deciding Who Sees Students' Data" (Oct. 5, 2013) draws attention, once again, to the many concerns surrounding student privacy in NYS.

Some facts about inBloom, Inc.:
  • inBloom, Inc. is a data repository for the copious amounts of student information (data) that are being collected by schools. (Schools often have many information systems "for things like contact information, grades and disciplinary data, test scores and curriculum planning...")
  • inBloom, Inc. basically promises to store the information in a cloud, encrypted, so that the data can be stored in one place, analyzed more easily, and made more accessible to state education departments and school districts.
  • inBloom will not only store data, "it promised to help personalize learning - by funneling student data to software dashboards where teachers could track individual students...and customize lessons in real time."  
Is student privacy being protected?
  • "We are officially the worst state in the country when it comes to student privacy," said the executive director of Class Size Matters.
  • FERPA, the federal law that protects student privacy, "updated it rules to permit schools to share student data, without notifying parents, with companies to which they have outsourced core functions like scheduling or data management." Once again, parents' rights are trod upon. It used to be illegal for schools to share children's educational records without parental permission.
  • A lawyer has stated, "...there are too few safeguards for the amount of data collected and transmitted from schools to private companies."
  • Due to privacy concerns 6 out of the 9 states that signed up for inBloom this year backed out. NYS is still in.
  • "New York State has already uploaded data on 90 percent of the 2.7 million public school and charter students...into inBloom."
Education Money...Where is it going?
  • Concerns have been voiced that much-needed education dollars are going to private, for-profit corporations as a result of extraordinary amounts of data gathering.(According to The NY Times, "Education technology software for prekindergarten to 12th grade is an $8 billion market...")
  • Among inBloom's goals is to "streamline access to students' data to bolster the market for educational products."
Worst case scenario?
  • There are fears "about the potential for mass-scale surveillance of students." 
  • Are schools uploading disciplinary data on students?
  • inBloom does not guarantee the privacy of the information collected. How could they? Governments, themselves, have a hard time keeping up with hackers.
Do you know what information your school district is sending to inBloom, Inc.? Is anyone sure that all this data collection will improve education for children? Concerned parents should be paying attention. 

No comments:

Post a Comment