Archive for Wednesday, August 14, 2013

State board refutes Common Core privacy concerns

August 14, 2013


— Kansas education officials on Tuesday denied suggestions that the new Common Core standards in reading and math will lead to widespread invasions of student and family privacy.

“There is no individual student data that we send to the federal government,” Kathy Gosa, the Kansas State Department of Education's IT director, told the State Board of Education. “It is all aggregate data.”

Those concerns — which have circulated widely on various websites and among some conservative political groups — came up again this week at the Kansas State Board of Education where, for for several months in a row, groups of people opposed to the Common Core standards have urged the board to reverse course and abandon them.

One of those was Renee Slinkard of Parker, Kan., who told the board, “The data collection of our children's medical and religious affiliations, besides other personal information, will be kept in a database for government access.”

Board member Sally Cauble, a Republican from Liberal, interjected to ask where Slinkard had gotten that information.

“I have been to various meetings,” Slinkard said.

When Cauble pressed the issue, Slinkard said they were meetings of “concerned parents,” and were not organized by any state agencies or officials. She said she also took part in conference calls with other concerned parents and had visited various websites, although she did not name any specific ones.

Similar charges have been circulating for months in national conservative media, including the Glenn Beck Show and the syndicated columns of Michele Malkin.

Common Core critics say the source of many of their concerns is the Obama administration's Race to the Top grant program, which offered money to states for developing “longitudinal data systems” that could track student performance over time.

But department officials told the board those concerns are overblown, that they will not collect any more information than they already collect about students, and that only aggregated data — not data about individual students — will be shared with the federal government, or anyone else.

Gosa gave a presentation about the department's data system, known as KIDS — Kansas Individual Data on Students. That system, she said, collects basic demographic information such as race, ethnicity and gender that is used for state and federal reporting.

It also tracks such things as students' enrollment and attendance information, their participation in programs such as special education or free and reduced-price meals, the courses they take and the grades they receive and their performance on state assessments, Gosa said.

In addition to federal reporting, Gosa said the information is used to calculate state funding and to determine eligibility for certain programs. But she said none of that data leaves the agency except in aggregated form, so that data about individual students cannot be identified.

During the discussion, board member Janet Waugh, a Democrat from Kansas City, asked if the state collected any data about how a student's parents had voted in the last election, or what church they attended.

“No,” Gosa said. “None of those data are collected.”

Other board members, including Hutchinson Republican Ken Willard, asked how secure the state's data is and whether it was safe from external hacking.

“We have security alerts, so the minute (a vulnerability) has been identified, we install patches,” Gosa said. “We have every safeguard that exists that we're aware of on our system. We have the technical solution in place, and we believe we have the personal solution in place too.”


tomatogrower 8 months ago

So everyone here is concerned about schools collecting data that might lead them to better educate the kids, but they aren't concerned that the ads that appear here, while they are talking about it, just happen to be ads for something they were searching for on the internet two days ago?


Ray Parker 8 months ago

Keep the feds out of public schools. We don't trust 'em, especially with our kids.

No Indoctrination

No Indoctrination by parkay


toe 8 months, 1 week ago

Government will fail at education because politic trumps learning. Government needs a docile citizenry to tax and spend as it pleases. Data is the milk of government. Feed it carefully.


Centerville 8 months, 1 week ago

Here's a challenge: who will be first to post the contents of the questionnaire: the KS BOE or the people who have actually, you know, looked into Common Core? The clock is ticking.


Centerville 8 months, 1 week ago

"none of that data leaves the agency except in aggregated form". Meaningless explanation. L None of it. period. will leave the agency about your child if you opt out of providing it. Tellingly, the reporter failed to mention this option.


Paul R Getto 8 months, 1 week ago

Send in the clowns for yet another Unicorn hunting expedition.


nick_s 8 months, 1 week ago

I was reading the Topeka Capital Journal online this morning & Renee Slinkard of Parker, KS was mentioned again in another article about a rally that Rep Lynn Jenkins held at the Topeka Ramada Inn ( Im beginning to wonder if this lady is really the concerned parent she is portraying herself as, or a GOP lackey who attends these things to be a right-wing rabble-rouser?


dontsheep 8 months, 1 week ago

Here you go.

Just because those in attendance didn't have the data to back up their point, does not mean it's not available.

Exhibit 11 on page 44 is particularly comforting.


fvanranken 8 months, 1 week ago

They actually collect more data now than ever but there is nothing collected that deals with religious affiliation, voting preferences, etc. Go to and you can find out exactly what data are collected on each student, teacher, and school system. It is more but it is not the "devil" at work.


tomatogrower 8 months, 1 week ago

They collect the same data that they have always collected, and except in aggregate form, no one, but teachers and administrators ever see it. Maybe the woman had to go look up aggregate, what do you think?


fvanranken 8 months, 1 week ago

It should be no surprise that there are those that fear data collection, etc. with the recent issues that have taken place the past several months. I would strongly encourage those that have those fears to go to they local school systems central office and ask to see exactly how that data is collected at the local level and uploaded to the state. It they would just do that rather than acting like fools with their conspiracy theories, lack of credible sources, and their references to people like Glen Beck, they would find it is not invasive. Trust your local live with them.


nick_s 8 months, 1 week ago

I like the part where the concerned parent couldn't cite one single source of data, but rather conceded that her only source of information was second hand from other parents who had no basis for their conclusion...& the internet, where everything is true. Its like a big game of telephone with adults. Sounds about right regarding this particular issue though. Let me guess, the websites she talks about but never lists are all ALEC affiliated.


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