If you can help with answers to the questions below, please chime in. How do parents “opt out” of sharing personal information about their children that is collected by the state and shared for purposes of marketing?

Diane, I am not sure where to post this but this is a request for you. This impacts almost every public school parent, student and child in the country and your forum would reach out to many. Would you post this in a prominent place to make parents and teachers aware?

The new price of public education means that parents will give up the ability to protect their children’s privacy and data which may lead to possible abuse and misuse of information through potential security breaches or inappropriate use. Teachers lose a degree of privacy as well because their data will be included in this database. As a result of new FERPA rules, circumstances can exist in which personal data on our children can be shared WITHOUT parental consent.

In the name of Education Reform and accountability, every state is creating a longitudinal database.

“To receive government funds, a state must provide an assurance that it will establish a longitudinal data system that includes the 12 elements described in the America COMPETES Act, and any data system developed with Statewide longitudinal data system funds must include at least these 12 elements.”

The elements are:

1)An unique identifier for every student that does not permit a student to be individually identified (except as permitted by federal and state law);

2)The school enrollment history, demographic characteristics, and program participation record of every student;

3)Information on when a student enrolls, transfers, drops out, or graduates from a school;

4) Students scores on tests required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act;

5)Information on students who are not tested, by grade and subject;

6)Students scores on tests measuring whether they’re ready for college;

7)A way to identify teachers and to match teachers to their students;

8)Information from students’ transcripts, specifically courses taken and grades earned;

9)Data on students’ success in college, including whether they enrolled in remedial courses;

10) Data on whether K-12 students are prepared to succeed in college;

11)A system of auditing data for quality, validity, and reliability; and

12)The ability to share data from preschool through postsecondary education data systems.

In #1 students will not be individually identified EXCEPT as permitted by federal and state law. Well, guess what? The federal law that protects privacy of student information (FERPA) was quietly changed effective Jan. 2012 and this data can be released to 3rd party “educational” organizations WITHOUT parental consent.

#2 demographic characteristics will include personal and family information.

#7 brings in teacher matching data.

#10 In my district, web-based surveys, learning and personality tests with extensive questions are being given starting in 6th grade to prepare students to be “college and career ready.” Might this data be included? Who wants to be held to something they wrote at 11 years old? Where does this data live?

The major problem here is that this data is PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE. Besides the obvious fraud and identity theft this can lead to if data is not secured properly, what impact might this have on our children once a historical database by name is compiled on them from pre-kindergarten? This data (through the new FERPA rules) can be shared with 3rd party organizations (i.e. similar to the Shared Learning Collaborative case in NY State in which the State contracted with an organization to create “personalized learning” for children.)

Parents really need to talk to their PTA’s and with their teachers. Ask that the school provide information on what the new FERPA rules mean – in plain language – about our childrens’ personal information, what is contained in their “educational record,” exactly what leaves the district in the form of data, who receives it, and how do we know it is secure and anonymous. Do we have assurances that our data is safe and secure? How do we opt-out of sharing our children’s personal data?

Thank you Diane!