Peter Greene notes that the corporate reformers are still pressing for more data on each student. There can never be enough data. When there is more than enough, then you have Big Data, where government and corporations can analyze mega-trends. But reformers don’t say that this is what they want; they insist that this data is what parents want and need, even if they don’t say so themselves.

He writes:

Over at Getting Smart, a website devoted to selling educational product, guest writer Aimee Rogstad Guidera makes her case for more data collection for each student– because it’s what parents want.

“Parents are eager for information about their child’s education. As a mom, I want to know if my daughter is struggling in math before she comes home in tears. I need information to support my child’s learning at home, and to support my child and her teacher in making the best decisions for her learning in the classroom.”

Maybe I just don’t get it, but I’m inclined to think that if you didn’t know your child was having trouble in math before the coming-home-in-tears part, you’re just not paying attention. I have heard this pitch enough times to make me occasionally wonder if there is, in fact, some place where teachers keep every scrap of information carefully hoarded, students never speak to their parents about school, parents never ask about school, and all parent requests for conferences and information are denied by all school personnel. Maybe there is some place where parents are so deeply clueless and helpless that they have no idea how their students are doing.
Or maybe Guidera is the CEO and President of the Data Quality Campaign, a group interested in student data and funded by the Gates Foundation, the Waltons, the Dells, and the Ford Foundation. They do have some rules about how such data should be kept in a safe lockbox, but they are clearly Big Data fans.

Guidera is advocating for student data backpacks– little (or not so little) bundles of data that just follow students around, providing parents with all sorts of longitudinal data (because, again, parents don’t know much about their own children).

Greene has some advice for parents who want more information about how their child is doing: pick up the phone and call the teacher.