Archives for category: Students

Student privacy activists are outraged by the legislation that’s being rushed through Congress that would legalize industry’s right to confidential data about children without parental consent.

 

This is from Leonie Haimson and Rachel Strickland of Student Privacy Matters:

 

Rep. Luke Messer (IN) and Rep. Jared Polis (CO) are introducing a bill in the House that would allow vendors of online programs used in schools to collect, share and commercialize the personal information of students. Rep. Polis has said that they intend to rush this bill through the House, without amendment or debate. Parents and privacy advocates CANNOT let this happen.

We need your help. Please visit our action page to send a letter and then make a quick call to your US Representatives.

For more information, see articles in POLITICO and The New York Times, and read the comments of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy available here.

Thanks,

Rachael Stickland and Leonie Haimson

Co-chairs, Parent Coalition for Student Privacy

http://www.studentprivacymatters.org

 

 

Here is today’s story in politico.com by Stephanie Simon:

 

 

“STUDENT PRIVACY BILL UNDER FIRE: A bipartisan student privacy bill to be introduced in the House today aims to reassure parents that their children’s data is safe. But the bill lets companies continue to collect huge amounts of intimate information on students, compile it into profiles of their aptitudes and attitudes – and then mine that data for commercial gain. It also permits the companies to sell personal information about students to colleges and potential employers, according to a near-final draft reviewed by Morning Education. Microsoft has already endorsed the bill. And the chief sponsors, Republican Rep. Luke Messer and Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, say they’re confident it will quickly earn bipartisan support in both chambers. It will likely get a push as well from the White House, which worked closely with Messer and Polis on the language. But privacy advocates and parent activists see the bill as deeply flawed. It’s riddled with “huge loopholes” and “escape clauses,” said Khaliah Barnes, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s student privacy project.

 

– Consider a provision barring companies from selling personal information about students. That seems rock-solid. Yet there’s an exception: A company can sell data if a student or parent requests it be shared “in furtherance of post-secondary education or employment opportunities.” An online textbook, tutorial service or gaming app could likely fulfill this requirement by asking kids to check a box if they want to hear from colleges or employers interested in students just like them. I have more here: http://politico.pro/1CPMUf3

 

– Industry has opposed any federal privacy law, out of concern that it would stifle innovation. Hoping to showcase the benefits of that innovation, the Software Information and Industry Association and the trade association TechAmerica have launched the “Smarter Schools Project,” which highlights classrooms using technology wisely. More: http://bit.ly/1CHTPXw

 

– Some ed-tech start-ups, meanwhile, are moving aggressively to showcase their own commitment to protecting privacy. The company Kickboard is sharing privacy protection advice with other start ups. Clever posted its privacy policy on GitHub, which lets readers track any changes. And when parent activists took to Twitter to question how a startup called LearnSprout was using student data, the company responded by asking them for help making sure the data was protected. Months of dialog followed. LearnSprout unveils its new approach today: The company promises that it will never sell or rent personally identifiable information about students and will never use that information to improve or market its own products. Read more about the dialog from LearnSprout Marketing Director Paul Smith: http://bit.ly/1GCQUNw and from Rachael Stickland and Leonie Haimson of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy: http://bit.ly/1CGVgnz.”

Parent advocates say that the tech industry desperately wants to protect student privacy from being invaded, except when the tech industry finds it useful and necessary.  The tech industry wants to limit data mining, except under certain circumstances that permit data mining. The bill would make it unnecessary to obtain parental consent for invasions of student privacy.

 

Contact: Rachael Stickland, 303-204-1272, info@studentprivacymatters.org
Leonie Haimson, 917-435-9329, leoniehaimson@gmail.com
http://www.studentprivacymatters.org

 

Messer/Polis Student Privacy Bill Protects Commercial Interests of Vendors not Kids

 

 

The bill just introduced by Representatives Messer and Polis addresses few if any of the concerns that parents have concerning the way their children’s privacy and safety have been put at risk by the widespread disclosure of their personal data by schools, districts and vendors.
Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy said, “The bill doesn’t require any parental notification or consent before schools share personal data with third parties, or address any of the current weaknesses in FERPA. It wouldn’t stop the surveillance of students by Pearson or other companies, or the collection and sharing of huge amounts of highly sensitive student information, as inBloom was designed to do.”
“All the bill does is ban online services utilized by schools from targeting ads to kids – or selling their personal information, though companies could still advertise to kids through their services and or sell their products to parents, as long as this did not result from the personal information gathered through their services. Even that narrow prohibition is incomplete, as vendors would still be allowed to target ads to students as long as the ads were selected based on information gathered via student’s single online session or visit – with the information not retained over time.”
Rachael Stickland, Colorado co-chair of the Parent Coalition: “The bill doesn’t bar many uses of personal information that parents are most concerned about, including vendor redisclosures to other third parties, or data-mining to improve their products or create profiles that could severely limit student’s success by stereotyping them and limiting their opportunities.”
Other critical weaknesses of the bill:
Parents would not be able to delete any of the personal information obtained by a vendor from their children, even upon request, unless the data resulted from an “optional” feature of the service chosen by the parent and not the district or school.
The bill creates a huge loophole that actually could weaken existing privacy law by allowing vendors to collect, use or disclose personal student information in a manner contrary to their own privacy policy or their contract with the school or district, as long as the company obtains consent from the school or district. It is not clear in what form that consent could be given, whether in an email or phone call, but even if a parent was able to obtain the school’s contract or see the vendor’s privacy policy, it could provide false reassurance if it turns out the school or district had secretly given permission to the company to ignore it.
Vendors would be able to redisclose students’ personal information to an unlimited number of additional third parties, as long as these disclosures were made for undefined “K12 purposes.”
Vendors would be able to redisclose individual student’s de-identified or aggregate information for any reason or to anyone, without restrictions or safeguards to ensure that the child’s information could not be easily re-identified through widely available methods.
Rachael Stickland concludes: “This bill reads as though it was written to suit the purposes of for-profit vendors, and not in the interests of children. It should be rejected by anyone committed to the goal of protecting student privacy from commercial gain and exploitation.”
### 

In response to the public outrage over Pearson monitoring of students’ social media, PARCC released a statement describing its fairness and security policy.

Mercedes Schneider discusses it here. Read her suggestion about the best way to protect test security.

David Gamberg, superintendent of schools in Greenport and Southold, two neighboring towns on the North Fork of Long Island in Néw York, sent a letter home to parents, outlining the procedure they should follow if they don’t want their child to take the Common Core tests.

He assured parents that students will not be compelled to “sit and stare,” a punitive approach in some districts.

An enlightened educator, Gamberg is a strong supporter of the arts in schools. The elementary school in Southold has its own orchestra and a vegetable garden where children raise food for the cafeteria.

Reader Chiara shares the following:

Politico has a good piece about the contractor(s) doing the monitoring.

“Chris Frydrych, the CEO of Geo Listening, says his service routinely alerts school principals to students whose posts indicate they’re feeling particularly stressed or angry. He also points administrators to students who share too much personal information online, leaving them vulnerable to cyber predators.

Boasts about cheating. Dares to act recklessly. Taunts. Threats. Trash talk about teachers. For $7,500 per school per year, his service will scoop it all up and report it all to administrators.

“Our philosophy is, if someone in China can type in your child’s user name and see what they’re posting publicly on social media, shouldn’t the people who are the trusted in adults in a child’s life see that information?” Frydrych said.

He responds to critics who worry about privacy violations by quoting a student tweet he spotted while monitoring a school: “Twitter is not your diary. Get over it.”

Read more:

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/cyber-snoops-track-students-116276.html#ixzz3V24EuBKl

Someone should inform this guy that he works for, and is paid by, the students and parents he’s sneering at. The arrogance is just incredible. The contractors we’re all paying seem to be running the show.

Read more:

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/cyber-snoops-track-students-116276.html#ixzz3V23ajlPV

The ubiquity of online communications in the schools opens up new possibilities for entrepreneurs to collect and mine confidential, personally identifiable data about children. Under the terms of a bill to protect student privacy, corporations will not need parental consent to access this data.

As reported by politico.com:

“DATA PRIVACY BILL ON THE WAY: The long-awaited student data privacy bill is expected to drop on Monday. Reps. Luke Messer and Jared Polis have been working together to draft it, following principles that President Barack Obama laid out in January [http://politico.pro/1O71PUT]. An aide to Polis said the bill’s language would draw heavily on a voluntary, industry-backed Student Privacy Pledge [http://bit.ly/1zhrSlR ] that has been signed by 124 ed tech companies of all sizes, from startups to giants such as Apple and Google. A bill echoing the pledge would please the ed tech world. But it would likely raise red flags for privacy advocates, who have expressed concerns that the pledge contains too many loopholes to be useful. Among their objections: The pledge doesn’t require companies to get parental consent – or even to give parents advance notice – before collecting intimate information on their children’s academic progress and learning styles. It also explicitly allows companies to build personal profiles of children to help them develop or improve ed-tech products. They can’t sell those profiles, but some parents are uncomfortable with any use of student data for commercial gain. A refresher on the pledge: http://politico.pro/192EYsW”

Bill Ashton, a teacher in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was suspended for discussing opting out with his students. They launched a campaign to “Bring Back Ashton,” and he was reinstated.

 

But the leaders of the school and the district made it clear that he had violated district policy and was on thin ice. They accused him of editing anti-testing fliers that ridiculed the Rhode Island Department io Education. They were especially angry that his son was leading an anti-testing protest.

 

“Ashton was sent home on paid leave last Friday after telling students at the Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts that the school would not lose funding if they did not take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exam, according to a letter written that same day by JMW Principal Elizabeth Fasteson. Ashton was back to work on Tuesday morning, according to school.”

Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary School in Chicago, recently wrote an electrifying letter urging parents in his school, in his state, and in the nation to OPT OUT!

 

Now he has written an open letter to Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, reprimanding her for pressuring students not to opt out.

 

He writes:

 

Ms. Byrd-Bennett,

 

In response to parent and teacher support for opting children out of the PARCC Test, you sent a message to all CPS principals. It states:

 

“Please be advised that ISBE does not recognize a parent’s right to opt a child out of required student assessments, as there is no law in Illinois allowing this. While a parent cannot “opt a child out,” there may be students who refuse to participate in required state assessments.”

 

There are numerous faults and inconsistencies in your letter. I attempt to address a few of them here.

 

“Choice” Hypocrisy

 

It is pitifully ironic that you, Mr. Emanuel, and ISBE Chairman James Meeks—self-professed proponents of what you call “parental school choice”—would fight so vigorously to deny parents the choice of opting their children out of testing.

 

Posturing, Bullying and Wasting Learning Time

 

Your letter states that even if the parent states, in writing, not to test the child, school officials still must present each child with each one of the five sections of the PARCC tests and force the child to refuse each section separately. In April—when the second half of the PARCC is administered—you have directed us to repeat this process with up to 3 sessions. In total we have been directed to force students to verbally or physically refuse the PARCC on up to eight distinct occasions.

 

Your letter goes on to state:

 

“It is unfortunate that ISBE’s limited guidance on this matter has placed the burden of refusing the test on students. I believe this is unfair to our students, families, principals and staff. However, we are obligated to follow ISBE’s limited direction to avoid sanctions that would have a devastating impact on our district.”

 

If you believe it is “unfortunate,” and “unfair” then why are CPS officials forcing children in some schools to refuse not only to the teacher, but to the principal and the network chief? If you believe it’s “unfair,” why was a network chief sent to Mollison School—my elementary alma mater—where the chief forced each student to refuse directly to her; in one case allegedly forcing a fourth grade autistic child to articulate his desire to opt out despite the fact that he’d already made his desire clear when he himself submitted a signed note from his mother?

 

Then there’s what is alleged to have happened at Taylor school on the far southeast side, where a teacher reported an administrator, “got within a few inches of the face of one young man in the [opt-out] line, and asked him loudly, “DID SHE PUT A TICKET IN YOUR HAND?!!!”, then ordered the teacher to “PUT A TESTING TICKET IN EVERY STUDENT’S HAND AND PUT THEM IN FRONT OF A COMPUTER!”

 

Although the facts behind both of the above incidents are in dispute, it is noteworthy that the people making the above claims are all parents of low-income minority children—the children our mayor said would “never amount to anything”; the children whose schools he shut down; and the children who he funnels to charter schools where they experience less academic growth than in the public system they came from. Why has CPS added PARCC bullying to the long list of offenses it has committed against these children and their families?…..

 

CPS has exhibited intense hypocrisy in regard to parental choice. It has bullied children and their families, been deceptive in its repressive framing of the law in regard to opt out rights, and parroted dubious claims about losing funds in relationship to opting out.

 

As a result, I will be taking the following course of action and call on you to advise all CPS principals to do the same:

 

Our school will meet its responsibility to administer the PARCC to all students who want to take it. Nearly 80% of our students have already expressed their decision to refuse the PARCC by submitting letters from their parents opting them out of the test. When students handed that opt-out letter to their teachers, that act was an expression of their refusal to take the test. That is enough for me, and it should be enough for CPS and ISBE. No child under my watch, who has expressed his or her decision to refuse the PARCC, will be sat in front of any computer to take it, nor presented with any materials. We will not waste even more learning time by subjecting our students to ISBE’s deceptive fear-mongering and CPS’s hypocritical test-driven political theater.

 

Respectfully,

 

Troy LaRaviere

 

CPS Graduate
Former CPS Teacher
CPS Parent
CPS Principal
Email: TroyLaRaviere@gmail.com
Twitter: @TroyLaRaviere

A high school principal sent the Grit Scale that is used in KIPP charter schools and possibly in other schools as well to measure whether students have “grit” and how much of it they have. The idea of “grit” was popularized by Paul Tough in his best-selling book “How Children Succeed.” The commonsense idea that is summarized as a four-letter word is that character, perseverance, and determination enable children even in the most difficult of circumstances to overcome obstacles and succeed. Who would disagree? But the question I have after reading this scale is whether it actually measures the qualities it says it measures, and whether those qualities can be taught in school. Is saying that one has perseverance the same as persevering? I don’t know. What do you think? I am reminded of the self-esteem craze of about 20 years ago, when California actually created a task force to study how to teach self-esteem; the bubble was burst (I think) by scholars who said that the typical measures of self-esteem might identify a bully, whose ego was so inflated that he became aggressive when anyone challenged him. I am not saying that character cannot be taught, but that in my experience it is taught best by a combination of modeling, expectations, and behavioral guidelines of family, school, religious institutions, and other environments in which children live. What do the adults do? What do they admire? What do they expect?

 

 

Grit Scale

 

Directions for taking the Grit Scale: Please respond to the following 17 items. Be honest – there are no right or wrong answers!

1. I aim to be the best in the world at what I do.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

2. I have overcome setbacks to conquer an important challenge.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

3. New ideas and projects sometimes distract me from previous ones.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

4. I am ambitious.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

5. My interests change from year to year.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

6. Setbacks don’t discourage me.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

7. I have been obsessed with a certain idea or project for a short time but later lost interest.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

8. I am a hard worker.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

9. I often set a goal but later choose to pursue a different one.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

10. I have difficulty maintaining my focus on projects that take more than a few months to
complete.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

11. I finish whatever I begin.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

12. Achieving something of lasting importance is the highest goal in life.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

13. I think achievement is overrated.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

14. I have achieved a goal that took years of work.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

15. I am driven to succeed.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

16. I become interested in new pursuits every few months.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

17. I am diligent.

  • 􏰀 Very much like me
  • 􏰀 Mostly like me
  • 􏰀 Somewhat like me
  • 􏰀 Not much like me
  • 􏰀 Not like me at all

Directions for scoring the Grit Scale

For questions 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, and 17, assign the following points: 5 = Very much like me

4 = Mostly like me
3 = Somewhat like me
2 = Not much at all like me 1 = Not like me at all

For questions 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 13, and 16, assign the following points: 1 = Very much like me

2 = Mostly like me
3 = Somewhat like me
4 = Not much at all like me 5 = Not like me at all

Grit is calculated as the average score for items 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, and 17. The Consistency of Interest subscale is calculated as the average score for items 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 16. The Perseverance of Effort subscale is calculated as the average score for items 2, 6, 8, 11, 14, and 17.

The Brief Grit Scale score is calculated as the average score for items 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 17. Ambition is calculated as the average score for items 1, 4, 12, 13, and 15.

Grit Scale citation

Duckworth, A.L, & Quinn, P.D. (2009). Development and validation of the Short Grit Scale (Grit- S). Journal of Personality Assessment, 91, 166-174. http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~duckwort/images/Duckworth%20and%20Quinn.pdf

Duckworth, A.L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M.D., & Kelly, D.R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, 1087-1101.

A dozen superintendents in Connecticut issued a manifesto for real reform. It is one that parents and teachers–and students too!–would happily embrace in place of the current stale and test-driven juggernaut that crushes learning and creativity.

They say, in part:

“Our public school landscape is littered with initiatives, while the vision for learning in Connecticut lacks clarity and coherence. In this “vision void” our measures (i.e. test scores) have become our goals, confounding the purpose of schooling and perpetuating yet another round of piecemeal initiatives.

“The path we should avoid taking is the one that implements the NCLB waiver plan as the de facto vision for the education of Connecticut’s children. Instead we should identify a clear and compelling vision for education in our state and employ all of our resources to achieve it. Staying the course of current reform efforts without a deep analysis of the effects in actual classrooms across the state will further cement the system of compliance and “one size fits all” that grips our very diverse school districts like a vise.

“One way to clarify the vision is to answer the direct and simple questions:

“What are the most worthy outcomes of our public education system?

“Are we preparing our students for the world they will enter when they graduate?

“Is our public education system positioned for continuous improvement, as opposed to ranking, sorting and punishing?

“To what extent do our laws increase conformity at the expense of innovation?

“The answers to these questions imply the need to foster the cognitive, social/emotional and interpersonal student capacities for work, citizenship and life. Additionally, they demand a deep analysis of the systemic efforts to continuously improve. Confronting these questions, and others, will require:

“A redefinition of the role of testing,

“An accountability model (mandatory in the NCLB waiver) matched to a clarified vision for 21st Century learning in Connecticut

“Statewide systems that incentivize innovation and a broad sharing of innovative programs…”

“Districts and teachers are suffocating from a “one size fits all”, compliance-based approach to schooling. One size does not fit all in education, no more than it does in medicine, social work or any other endeavor in which human beings are at the core of the enterprise. In an era that rewards and requires innovative thinking to solve complex problems, public schools have endured a stifling of professional autonomy through increased standardization and homogenization. As a result, energy is drained, a passion for teaching and learning evaporates, and many teachers and leaders question the lack of purpose to their work. Some ways to foster innovation include:

“Creating a “Districts of Innovation” program through which the State Department of Education would administer a rigorous process identifying various district approaches to current challenges faced by schools, such as, reducing bullying, improving school climate, evaluating the performance of individual teachers and administrators, etc. These districts would apply for a waiver or modification from state requirements in order to innovate their practices, while analyzing the impact. These districts could be required to partner with a university, commit to sharing their results, and, if successful, serve as a provider of professional development for other districts. The incubation of fresh, innovative ideas, by classroom teachers and administrators would exponentially grow the capacity of educators in the state.

“Working with Regional Education Service Centers (RESC) to develop an “expert in residence” program with area districts. Districts could grant a yearlong sabbatical to individual teachers to share their innovative work and provide professional development to schools across the state.
Pairing schools to work across different districts to collaboratively confront professional challenges. These partnerships could foster such promising practices as “lesson study”, peer to peer observations, and collaborative analysis of student work.”

These are but a few of the good ideas, grounded in experience and research, that these thoughtful superintendents propose. It is a vision for positive reform that should replace the sterile strategy of carrots and sticks.

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