Student Data NOT safe under SBAC

| January 30, 2014 | Reply

Is your  student-level data safe now that we have adopted the Common Core?   That is a hot topic in Michigan right now as we decide our assessments.  Currently we are part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia (SBAC).  School officials and others want us to believe that under SBAC your child’s data is safe.  It’s not.

In an attempt to alleviate growing concerns, 32 State Superintendents wrote a letter to Arne Duncan to confirm that states will not be sharing student level data with the Federal government.   Here’s a key excerpt from their letter,

“We are writing today to confirm that the consortia will not share any personally identifiable information about K–12 students with USED or any federal agency.  Our states have not submitted student-level assessment data in the past; the transition to the new assessments should not cause anyone to worry that federal reporting requirements will change when, in fact, the federal government is prohibited from establishing a student-level database that would contain assessment data for every student.

On its surface, this appears to address the concerns that have been expressed and acknowledged by legislators.  Unfortunately, it is actually a word game, a facade, an attempt to appease with no actual changes.

Dr. Karen Effrem, President of Education Liberty Watch,  has done an excellent job explaining and documenting the word game the CCSSO is playing.  Dr. Effrem states, “The testing consortia are under obligation to the U.S. Department of Education to provide individual student test data via the cooperative agreements that they signed.  Michigan signed the Smarter Balanced Agreement.

You can download the Cooperative Agreements from the Race to the Top Assessment Program Awards page. From page 3 of the SBAC (PDF),

5. Comply with, and where applicable coordinate with the ED staff to fulfill, the program requirements established in the RTTA Notice Inviting Applications and the conditions on the grant award, as well as to this agreement, including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis for research, including for prospective
linking, validity, and program improvement studies; subject to applicable privacy laws.

Dr. Effrem provides a very detailed analysis here.

The point is:
 - SBAC, not the states, will share the data
 - the Federal government will retrieve what they want, no one is sending it to them.

Bottom Line:  STUDENT-LEVEL data is NOT private.  It will be shared.

The assurances issued from Superintendent Flanagan and the MDE are without credibility.   Student data is not safe when Michigan is part of the Smarter Balanced Consortia.   Michigan must retain sole control of the assessment and the data collected.  Period.

Attend the Common Core at the Capital Event and Hearing on February 5.    We must make it clear to Lansing that consortias or corporations are NOT going to be in charge of assessments or student-data.

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