Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Update on Data Privacy and the PSAT

I mentioned yesterday that some groups were trying to gather student data via enrollment to take the PSAT.  This info was passed to me by another student data privacy activist in another state.

After my child took placement tests, I was getting spammed by numerous colleges. Each time I wrote the college to give me the source of where they got her information, asked them to remove my daughter from their list and then unsubscribed from the college email as well. Finally, one ethical recruiter gave me a number to call to have my student removed from a list share. From that number I found out my student had been put on another list share. Please find the numbers below: 

Contact the National Research Center for College and University Admissions @ 816-525-2201 Peggy Jansen and The Educational Research Center of America (ERCA). Their contact number is: 516-586-1003 and their email is: Additional contact number at ERCA: 515-248-6100.

ERCA IS SCARY because they market your student to BUSINESSES! The representative at ERCA was very candid and admitted to sharing/selling student data to businesses. ERCA gets that information from the college and career area of YOUR SCHOOL. The representative also stated that ERCA prints on surveys info about sharing data.

It's important to talk to your student before they take these tests because on them is a questionaire asking for private information to be sent to every school throughout the nation in their field of interest. So, if you live in CA and you don't want spam from colleges in NY or FL be alert.

Talk to your student about their privacy rights before allowing them to take these tests or surveys. Other surveys used may include Individual College and Career Planning (ICAP) and Naviance as well as Managebac

Another activist:

I just spoke to Peggy Jansen (below) and she said if the teacher has questions, call the College Board directly and find out how to opt out of data sharing and ask them to explain this text form.  The College Board direct number is  866-433-7728.

It's a violation of student privacy cloaked in advantageous college and career opportunities. Parents be aware and check for privacy concerns.

Uaspire, which was mentioned in my first notice of this type of action, appears to be a genuine group.  It is, however, unclear to me what data they collect and how they use it.  I do know that if your student signs up, they will get regular texts from Uaspire about college opportunities.


Anonymous said...

This is not a new issue. A generation ago I scored very well on my standardized college assessment test. Within weeks my mailbox was full of recruitment brochures and it didn't end until well after I was out of college itself.

On the positive side, I learned a lot about institutions with which I was unfamiliar. Even considered one of them. There is worse junk mail, I suppose.


Po3 said...

First, what businesses? That is pretty vague.

Second, what is wrong with colleges sending your students information? Isn't that part of the point of taking PSATs/SATs; to have unknown doors opened to your students?

mirmac1 said...

Somehow I recall a RoadMap project that includes PSAT and SAT testing. Might be worth a look to see if SPS is wrapped up in that.

Melissa Westbrook said...

EdVoter, it is new in that data is being shared and students contacted in multiple ways.

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa, actually, the contact in multiple ways isn't new either. We received not just mail, but also phone calls to our landline in those ancient days. The mail and phone calls came to myself, and to my parents, meaning there were (primitive) databases or at least Rolodexes (remember those!) being updated.

Yes, there are more ways today to contact and/or harass potential college students and their families, but mining standardized test scores is an old college recruitment trick.

A small part of me is happy that colleges are spending money data-mining to attract strong academic students and not solely for strong college athletes.


bigger concerns said...

This doesn't concern me at all compared to MAP scores, common core test scores, amplify, whatever, whatever, whatever scores being stored for my kids starting in K through 12th grade. I mean, one of my kids just clicks A on the MAP test to get out to recess and see the cartoon sooner. I worry non-stop that since there is forever-record of his abysmal scores that he will be shunned by colleges even though he is a smart kid.

At least the PSAT usually has kids paying more attention since they are older and better understand the life implications.

I hate the thought that my kid might not attend Harvard :) because his 2nd grade MAP scores were horrendous.

I was born in the early 70's and I was bombarded with college info after taking the PSATs and SATs. I loved getting it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One other issue is that some groups are asking for the last four digits of your child's SSN. If you are okay with that.

TechyMom said...

What EdVoter said.

I got piles of mail from colleges and the military after doing well on the PSAT in 9th grade. I learned a lot about what was available (beyond my parents' alma mater and its rival) from that mail. This is neither new nor bad.

Anonymous said...

Naviance was used by my oldest at Seattle Waldorf High School and he received several scholarships to east coast schools we hadn't even considered before. One of those schools became his 3rd choice but he got into his 1st choice so we didn't accept the scholarship. I always wondered how they heard about him and why they were sending scholarship offers out of the blue to him. It must have been from the Naviance database.


mirmac1 said...

Road Map pays for PSATs and SATs while..."In addition to assisting with college admissions, these tests provide districts and schools with valuable data to help improve instruction. The information can help district and schools identify potential students who are likely to succeed"

Anonymous said...

"The information can help district and schools identify potential students who are likely to succeed"

The fact is that yes, these tests are one indicator that a student might do well at college. It is not the only indicator. It may not be the best indicator. But it is an indicator.

Data sharing is not always bad. RoadMap project is not always bad. The world is not black and white, us against them no matter how hard some commenters try to make it so.

Seen It

mirmac1 said...

Seen it, at the same time those that collect data DO NOT reveal what the data is and the final disposition of this data.

fine print reader said...

I disagree with the ho-hum attitude by some of the above commenters, and give a big Thank You to Melissa for posting this information.

For those of you who loved your overfull mailboxes and intrusive phone calls in high school, I have zero problem with that -- IF you purposely opted into it. However, everyone should know that there is a huge lack of transparency today with what kinds of data is being collected, how it gets used, who it gets shared with, how long it lasts, and so on. It's bad enough that it happens with adults, but it's unacceptable that it's happening with students, children, and probably even preschoolers soon, if we don't put our collective feet down.

Some aspects of data mining are indeed opt-in, but it's difficult to know. On the PSAT, for example, the PSAT Supervisor's Manual directions (see pages 10-11) appear to say that if a student merely enters their home address into the form that they are opting in to receive mail from scholarship programs and universities. How many kids are going to not fill in their address?!

The PSAT Educator Guide (see page 6) appears to opt EVERYONE in to having their personal data sent to Telluride Association -- unless you "write to the PSAT/NMSQT office by Oct 13, 2014"! That's unacceptable! Other associations are automatically sent information based on what your student selected as their race on the answer sheet. It's not clear at all that students are opting into sending personal data when they check that box.

Again, it's not a problem if people want to opt into these things, but it should not take a PhD in contract law to be able to understand what personal data you're allowing to be data mined and when/how it will be disposed, and it should ALL be opt-in. No rigamarole to figure out how to opt out.

Thank you Melissa, for sharing this, and I hope some of the rest of you start thinking carefully about what this all means in the context of modern day data mining. It's not the 1970s anymore.

TechyMom said...

I can't recall if I opted in. 1983 was a long time ago. I'd be in favor of an easy (single checkbox) way to opt out, but I think the default should be for students to get offers and information from colleges and scholarships they may not have known about. I certainly didn't know what was coming in the mail, or what I might be missing by opting out. I would expect an awful lot of kids don't know either, whether that's because they are Freshmen or because their parents don't know much about college.

Anonymous said...

If there were ever a misplaced crusade about data sharing, college recruitment opportunities are it. Jeez people, in your quest for perfect data privacy you are cutting off the much bigger possibility of making the dreams and opportunities of our students wider and bigger. Nonprofits spend big bucks to get colleges to notice college-ready kids whose parents haven't been priming them for strong post-high-school academia.

Bring on the college information!And the scholarship information!

HS Parent