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.”


nick_s 2 years, 1 month 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.

nick_s 2 years, 1 month ago

Makes sense. Should have known when she mentioned her explicit concern that this was a federal conspiracy to track her child's religious affiliation. I'm sure there is a federal conspiracy to track & persecute children based on religion.

chootspa 2 years, 1 month ago

I think there must be "technical problems" with my posts again, since I already addressed this once, but ALEC has shown decidedly mixed feelings about common core. Some members love it and the potential to sell new and different testing products, some hate any attempt to reform schools and would rather continue defunding public education with things like vouchers and charters.

The tea party is decidedly against it, and that's where a lot of the agitation is coming from. Their angle (Government takeover of public education oh noez!) seems largely to be around the idea of keeping local control so they can force pet issues like removing evolution from the curriculum.

nick_s 2 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, I noticed my response above makes no sense since your reply was removed. It looks as if I was replying to myself.

chootspa 2 years, 1 month ago

I wish they had a system of hide recs where "offensive" posts were visible if you clicked on them rather than just gone. The conversational Swiss cheese is weird.

Fred Van Ranken 2 years, 1 month 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.

tomatogrower 2 years, 1 month 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?

Fred Van Ranken 2 years, 1 month 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.

dontsheep 2 years, 1 month 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.

Fred Van Ranken 2 years, 1 month ago

And what is your point? The US Dept. of Ed. draft refers to a study (actually several in the draft) where data on student learning is collected. Does it even begin to imply this is being done in the classroom or ever will be? Is this a paper on assessment collection techniques? I do not think so... Look on page vi: The purpose of this brief is to distill the critical themes, questions, conclusions, and recommendations around theory, measurement, and the design of learning environments, with an eye toward identifying potential new roles for technology. This brief explores the possibility that grit, tenacity, and perseverance can be malleable and teachable, and discusses the potential of these factors to significantly increase success for all students.

Do you not want to use scientific methods to demonstrate the fact that the things they are researching ARE affected by instruction (grit, tenacity, etc.)? Most people feel that those are static traits. If research being done provides evidence of malleability and methods to enhance do you want us to ignore it? It looks like a paper prepared using science in a positive way...

tomatogrower 2 years, 1 month ago

They don't believe in science. If a child is successful, it's because they believe in God enough that God rewards them. It has nothing to do with the child's grit, tenacity, or perseverance. If they are failures, it's the teacher's fault, because his/her godlessness has rubbed off on the kid, so God is punishing the kid. That is their "science".

dontsheep 2 years, 1 month ago

My point was simply that you and the other commenters were wrong. Data is being collected...and much more than ever before. By companies who make the technology used to collect/store it (amazon, microsoft, GE, etc) and the Gov't. To further drive that point home, here are some of the data points/statistics to be collected. I set it for K12. You can play around using the menu on the left.

Notice a couple specifically mentioned by you as not being tracked. Religious affiliation and voting status.

Tyler Palmer 2 years, 1 month ago

Hmm. Still don't see the issue here. There is no personally identifiable information being passed to the federal government, so that they can track individual students' religious affiliation and medical records; only aggregate, demographic data that is useful in the scientific study of how to better educate students.

Fred Van Ranken 2 years, 1 month ago

That is NOT being collected by the schools. Get your facts straight. I know that sometimes facts mean nothing but stop blaming the local or state educational system for reporting information regarding religious affiliation or voting practices. You are just plain wrong.

There is more data being collected than ever before (and I did say that in a post if you read the whole thing) BUT not the type of data you are talking least not by the schools.

I am as skeptical as they come but I also know what is collected and what is not within a school system as I chose to become informed. If it is being collected by other sources, find those and expose is not the schools in Kansas.

dontsheep 2 years, 1 month ago

I'm not saying it's collected now. I'm saying it's on the horizon. Conceptual today can easily become implemented next school year.

As I read your comment, I'm also thinking we might not be that far off from each other. I don't think the schools will collect this data as in the sense of collecting and storing. I think the plan is to use the schools as a collection device only. They might see small samples of the data, but not the entire collection. No way can they manage it.

Schools will have to play their part or they won't get federal money. It was all written into the stimulus plan.

Which should cause every parent's radar to go off at an even higher decibel level. If a teacher started asking questions and using biofeedback systems like these people are conceptualizing, they would be pissed and engaging the school board. Or at least they should be. So shouldn't they be even more on guard if it's being done by people they never meet, will never have the chance to confront and have no way to hold them accountable?

Who those people are isn't that hard to find. Just follow the technology trail and they people setting everything up. I already listed several companies. Microsoft, GE, Amazon (store the data in the cloud), SRI...just to name a few. Eli Broad, Bill Gates also offer 2 good places to start.

And at the end of the day. This is all about figuring out what our kids are good at and what they are not good at. Sort them according to skill/personality/behavior type and plug them into their future profession. Makes it easy for those companies to plan out their workforce and create products that future consumers will want to have. They will know more about our kids then we do. At least "scientifically". Which according to some on this thread is apparently ok. It's just science.

Peter Hancock 2 years, 1 month ago

If you click on the "home" link of that web page, you will see the following statement in bold, red type face:

NEDM is a conceptual data model and NOT a data collection. There are no data in NEDM or collected by NEDM.

dontsheep 2 years, 1 month ago

See my comment above Peter. And do some investigative work. It would make a much better story and provide much more context into why people are resisting this initiative.

nick_s 2 years, 1 month 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?

nick_s 2 years, 1 month ago

Doing a simple Google search, Mrs. Slinkard appears to have attempted a run for a KS House seat in 2010.....wait for a Republican( She was defeated, but also appears to run a political blog. Just a quote from her latest entry, misspellings included, "Don't be fooled by the name noratority. I hope to hear from John Coen. I am looking for strong conservative principles in our candidates unlike what we had in some of our past Senators and Representatives. This is going to be an exciting primary and general. Hopefully we can clean house on some of these liberal Republicans who are pushing for bigger Government." She seems to be just the kind of person who is on the Brownback bandwagon & is allowing this administration to run our state right into the ground. She presents herself as a concerned parent, yet seems to be hiding quite a personal agenda.

Centerville 2 years, 1 month 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.

tomatogrower 2 years, 1 month ago

Do you even know what aggregate means. It means that they give percentages. For instance, they might say that 30% of their student population live in a single parent home, 50 percent live with both biological parents, 2% live with adopted parents, 18% live with step parents. So in research, and since you conservatives want numbers and "accountability", they may find that the 2% of adopted children do poorly on the test. This would lead them to try and find a solution for that population. Or they could make you really happy and ignore that information and just let those kids be failures, so you can point their fingers and blame, blame, blame.

IreneAdler84 2 years, 1 month ago

One of the biggest problems with NCLB, was that it only captured "snapshots." Fourth grade students one year were compared to fourth grade students the next year. This tends to put schools with more transient student populations at a disadvantage because the same kids are not tested year to year. If you want to show that children are "learning", you have to be able to track learning trajectories over time, then you aggregate that information across a given school or even a teacher.

Moreover, for this information to be meaningful, you need to compare apples to apples. For instance, if a school can show that (initially) low performing, low SES, kids are making strong educational gains over the course of the year, then they know that what they are doing is working well.

There is nothing insidious about this. Frankly, it is just common sense.

Centerville 2 years, 1 month 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.

tomatogrower 2 years, 1 month ago

You should have read the comments above. Here it is again. You may have to read the whole thing and click on links to read more. Sorry if it isn't in a more simple form.

tomatogrower 2 years, 1 month 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?

chootspa 2 years, 1 month ago

Apparently they're not even concerned about the actual data being collected on kids. It's some nebulous "well they could collect x, y, or z in the future if we let them do this less extensive collection right now" slippery slope argument.

It's people like that that prevent us from making meaningful change. Rather than having realistic criticisms about Common Core, like the over-emphasis on non-fiction reading material for example, they kitchen sink with silly complaints and add wild, implausible claims. It just makes them sound crazy and makes it easier to implement Common Core exactly as it is instead of allowing for reasonable changes.

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