The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) assessments will provide the federal government access to information about your child. Yes, that is right. And you were never asked as a parent if this is okay with you, were you? How did this happen? Who authorized this?
If your state has adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and will be using either the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) or Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) assessments the federal government will have access to your child’s individual data. Let’s explore this a bit.
First, the CCSS are a set of standards identifying what students are expected to learn. The standards themselves do not require any data to be shared with anybody. If that is the case, why do some people claim the Common Core State Standards require states to share student data with the federal government?
The Race to the Top (RTTT) Assessment Program awarded grants to PARCC and SBAC to develop assessments aligned to the CCSS. They each have an identical cooperative agreement. For PARCC, it is called the Cooperative Agreement Between the U.S. Department of Education and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers. For SBAC, it is called the Cooperative Agreement Between the U.S. Department of Education and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the State of Washington (fiscal agent). You can download the Cooperative Agreements from the Race to the Top Assessment Program Awards page. Consortia member states are bound by the terms of these agreements. Are there terms in these agreements parents should be concerned about? YES!
Let’s look at the terms that may concern parents having to do with data. You are encouraged to check the cooperative agreement documents for yourself to verify these terms are actually n the agreements. It is established early in the document that ED stands for U.S. Department of Education. Grantee refers to the grant recipient—either PARCC of SBAC. Item 5 on page 3 says:
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.
This establishes that the agreement is referring to student-level (individual) data when it mentions data. The document says nothing about aggregate data.
Item 5(b) on page 11 reads:
(b) Producing all student-level data in a manner consistent with an industry-recognized open-licensed interoperability standard that is approved by the Department during the grant period;
Item 6 on page 10 reads:
6) The Grantee must provide timely and complete access to any and all data collected at the State level to ED or its designated program monitors, technical assistance providers, or researcher partners, and to GAO, and the auditors conducting the audit required by 34 CFR section 80.26.
If asked, your state officials may deny the Common Core requires the state to share student data with the federal government. While they may not be lying to you they aren’t being entirely honest as a result of semantics. Instead of the state sharing data it is the consortia providing access. The state isn’t required to share student-level data through the Common Core. The consortia are required to “provide timely and complete access to any and all data collected at the state level” to the federal government. So even the consortia are able to deny they are sharing student data with the federal government. They aren’t sharing in the sense of giving, rather they are providing access so the federal government can reach in and take whatever data they want whenever they want.
This is where people get the idea the Common Core requires the state to share student data with the federal government. It really is the federal government requiring the assessment consortia to provide complete access to student-level data.
I will pose a few of the many questions this access to individual student data to the federal government raises. If parents know about this will they see it as a violation of their privacy and the privacy of their child? How many parents willingly and knowingly would consent to the federal government being provided access to their child’s individual data? Who authorized this? Did “We the People” authorize this? Since the federal government is prohibited from developing a nationwide database on students is this a way to circumvent the prohibition and in essence promote, support, and have access to individual student data from the majority of states? Once aware, what will parents do about this? Do teachers, principals, superintendents, and school board members know they are enabling the federal government to have complete individual student data access by administering these assessments? How many legislators are aware of this and not doing anything about it? How do parents, taxpayers, and voters feel about their legislators not putting a stop to this?
What, then, do you make of this from the OSPI website?
“The Consortium will not share identifiable student-level data with the federal government. The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Education Reform Sciences Act of 2002, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) all prohibit the creation of a federal database with students’ personally identifiable information.”
Here is the twist semantics play. The statement you have provided from OSPI’s website is true. The Cooperative Agreement says nothing about sharing. The Consortium will not share, they will provide access. It is how it is worded. Of course it is possible the person who wrote this statement did not read the Cooperative Agreement. Now, if they want to say that the Consortium will not provide access to identifiable student-level data with the federal government they need to provide documentation showing a new agreement with the U.S. Department of Education that nullifies the terms of the existing agreement.
So a “federal database” won’t be created, but access by the federal government will be allowed. Now that’s splitting hairs. 😒
how do I stop my school district from sharing my childs data withe anyone?
You can do nothing but opt your student out of the test.
You can always request that your wishes be respected. I’ve expressed my concern over the data collection with my principal (who didn’t really know where the data went or who would have access). I’ve asked that my kids not take the state tests which will collect data, but also that they not take any computerized assessments, surveys, questionnaires, etc, and specifically that their information not be uploaded to CEDARS, Washington’s state longitudinal database.
This was actually surprisingly well received by my principal who said she would request the teachers’ cooperation. So far as I am aware, things are going according to my wishes, but I have no way of knowing what information is or is not being entered. As far as I know, saying please is your only course of action, although we should also be letting districts, OSPI, and the legislature hear about this.
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