If you didn’t first see the legal expert’s video go here and then come back….

It is not a warning, but just a reality check as to what “could” happen you you as a parent if you allow your child to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment…

Moving forward now, here is what that new legislation should address.

Whereas behavioral, class attendance, class performance and traditional forms of data like grades have been collected, now there is greater interest in collecting metadata which is information about how a child is interacting with the program, interacting with the software, data which is highly marketable and a lot of companies are scrambling to obtain that data. They are looking at it to assess school products, to assess teachers’ teaching methods, and to assess a child’s future in order to open and close doors long before a child reaches the hallway those doors are on.

The question hereto unasked, unsolved and unanswered, is how are we going to structure that access to data…  so it is fair to children, to parents, to teachers, to schools….

The worst-case-scenario is abuse of these to harm children.. instances where they are improperly tracked and improperly labeled and improperly sent down wrong pathways they shouldn’t be sent.

All because of bad data practices….

Before going forward, we need to have “good” data practices implemented and have teeth in the law so even bad people will want to do good…

Necessary to this is a blanket protection on ALL data acquired on a child… All data is unavailable to anyone outside those directly involved. The scope of protection…. has to be very broad….

Next step is to establish very clear use restrictions…. as in what can this data be used for?… Make it open and shut… “Can this data be used by Skippy Peanut Butter?”  “Let us check the clear use restrictions.”  “No, it does not allow transference of data to Skippy Peanut Butter”….  Open and shut.

Then we need to add a flexible option, so educated parents can choose to “opt in” on having other sources of information disseminated about their child…  It becomes the parent’s choice whether their child’s data can be used and to whom those additional users may be.

And finally to all of these there should be added some type of repercussions, which are strong enough to make violating any of these tenants, financially risky.

Currently there is none. Nada.  The only restriction is in FERPA  The Federal government can withhold money from a school district if there is a violation of FERPA. In the 41 years of FERPA, that has never happened. If a school district violates your child’s privacy, if the State violates your child’s privacy, if a vendor violates your child’s privacy, as a parent, you have no private right of action.

In this environment, your child’s data once acquired, is available to all. John Carney can even acquire a list of marginal students and call their parents to get their votes.  Everything is wide open.

As a society we often venture into new territory first, learning as we go.  The first cars didn’t have brakes because you just previously told the horse to slow down; the thought did not cross their inventor’s minds until racing down the road. When we went into Iraq, we didn’t have a plan on how to govern once we took over.  Dick Cheney didn’t think of it. We’d just take it and suck out their oil.

Today, we don’t let just anyone drive. They have to demonstrate they know how. Likewise today we don’t let anyone set up and operation room and extract live organs. They have to prove they are capable in knowledge and ability.

Therefore we really shouldn’t allow the Smarter Balanced to go forward until we fix these problems it leaves in its wake. Should we?

Here is the approach which should be taken. WE need a figurehead bill put up that WHEREAS’s all the facts listed above, to preface a bill advocating the immediate eradication of the Smarter Balanced for security reasons, as our one test in Delaware. This won’t pass nor is it intended to.. It’s purpose is to create a lightning rod for all educational wonks on both sides to focus their attention upon. Despite a probable prognosis for failure, the full-press  floor fight for its passage should be passionate, since that is what drives public scrutiny and shapes public opinion.

Then invisibly, under the radar, 4 new bills need to be quietly slipped through, addressing the plugging of each of the 4 holes illuminated above…  Bill 1) We need state blanket protection of all data. Bill 2) We need to determine exactly who, what, where that data will be allowed to go. Bill 3) We need to allow parents the right to “opt in” into allowing further data to be disseminated. And finally Bill 4) we need some type of gigantic bankruptcy-causing-punitive-damage and jail for anyone violating a child’s privacy without the express permission of his parents.

By then (if our crystal ball is correct) the Smarter Balanced will most likely have been replaced with another test (unless it scores a magnificent save this year) and the above protections will be in place long before any new test (if any at all), materializes…

 

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