Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Your Kid's Student Data for Sale? It's Happening in Texas

Update on another student data privacy issue: from the LA Times on the SAT/ACT firms selling data:

My teenage son received a letter the other day from the National Student Leadership Conference, one of a number of elite-sounding summertime events for high achievers. The cost of attending typically runs in the thousands of dollars.

I have no problem with these gatherings. They sound like good opportunities for young people to meet like-minded friends, learn new things and hear from interesting guest speakers.
It says if he attends the program — which can cost anywhere from $2,500 to more than $5,000 — he will be “awarded an Academic Transcript, Letters of Recommendation and a Certificate of Achievement to include in your college applications.”

I spoke with several college admissions officers. They all said such materials play little if any role in deciding whether to accept a student.

What bugs me, though, is the way these things are pitched to teens, often in the form of a bogus academic honor, with an added suggestion that attending will boost your chances of getting into a good college, which it probably won’t.

This is deceptive marketing, pure and simple, and the fact that it’s targeting kids makes it doubly offensive.

Worse, these “student leadership” organizations are buying access to high schoolers through the testing firms, which should know better than to think young people are savvy enough about privacy issues to safeguard their personal information.
It's also a gross inequity because low-income kids - who may be first generation to go to college and have even less of a chance of knowing what to do - probably would not be able to afford these "conferences" and then worry that they are losing an opportunity to help their chances for college.
“Kids will willingly give away their information, especially to something respectable like a testing company,” she said. “No one tells them not to.”

One of the top testing firms, ACT, told me nearly three-quarters of test takers agree to share their personal information.

With adults, maybe you can say “buyer beware.” With kids, we want to err on the side of caution. Just as we regulate advertising of various products to young people, a strong case can be made for not marketing to teens based on standardized tests.
end of update

From the Texas Education Agency:

"Phase One of this process will take place in the summer of 2017 and involves sharing Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Records from up to 350,000 students in Independent School Districts (ISD) across Texas.

Participating districts will be asked to share student IEP records and corresponding STAAR testing data for those students for the previous 3 years. Districts will receive a data sponsorship reimbursement between $10k-$100k, commensurate with district size, in addition to an individualized district level analytic report."


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You write about very serious things. On the one hand, when faced with this type of program it seems that quality training can not be cheap, but on the other hand it is terrible to fall under the influence of adventurers who give out trivial things for the original opportunity.

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