Linda McNeill is a well-known scholar of high-stakes testing at Rice University in Houston.

She writes here about the ominous role of testing companies in data mining students as they are studying or taking tests online. They gather confidential data about every child. That data may later be used for commercial purposes.

Even as they regularly invade the privacy of unknowing children, they fiercely resist any attempts to make public their tests, on which the fate of students, educators, and schools hinge.

Any discussion of the test content will lead to claims of copyright infringement and threats of legal action. And as we have seen in recent weeks, the test publishers contact Twitter, Facebook, and other social media and lodge complaints that lead to the deletion of tweets, posts, and comments. The testing companies assert the right to censor other people’s products, while shielding their own from public scrutiny.

McNeill writes:

Corporations – from testing companies to third-party marketers to unknown (and perhaps international) vendors – can scoop up personal information on young children and teenagers to use for their own profit. And parents have few ways to find out what these strangers know about their children and how the data collected from year to year will be used to manipulate their children lives.

So are the testing companies advocates willing to have their “data” open to outsiders? It would seem the answer is a clear and resounding NO!….

We’re learning that questioning the tests can put the questioner in jeopardy. Anyone – including teachers – who wants more public scrutiny of the mandated standardized tests that so dominate our schools these days, may be “surveilled.” A teacher or blogger who raises questions about the tests is in danger of being threatened by – yes, the testing companies that have no problem gathering and selling data on young children but do not want anyone to know what they are doing.

What is sauce for the goose is definitely not sauce for the gander. They have a right to collect data about us without our knowledge, but we have no right to know how they are spying on us and data mining our children.