Editor’s note: This is the second of two articles on the Common Core standards.
LAKE PLACID — While the state education commissioner listens to Common Core feedback statewide, schools in the North Country have established portals for reporting student data.
Two considerations raising questions are the eventual cost to taxpayers and access to student test data.
SCHOOLS HAD DEADLINE
Assessment test results are key components of the data-distribution system being established in federal Race to the Top programs.
The compliance schedule required all schools to choose one of three data portals by Oct. 31.
The price for the portals includes a $3-per-student payment to the state, plus a cost between $2 to $5 per student to inBloom, the subcontractor collecting the data for web-based cloud storage and disbursement.
Regionally, most area schools chose a common portal — My Track, from eScholar — in order to achieve continuity for students who may move from one school to another nearby.
“We also want to be able to work together with BOCES if the plan goes into action,” Westport Central School Superintendent Dr. John Gallagher explained.
All 17 schools in the Champlain Valley Educational Services BOCES have selected the My Track, eScholar program.
Dr. Roger Catania, superintendent at Lake Placid, said the nine schools in the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES also chose the My Track portal.
“We thought it would be wiser to choose one where we could share the support, essentially,” Catania said.
The other two options that State Ed provided were Datacation Compass, powered by ConnectEdu, and a portal called SchoolNet by Pearson.
Schools have not fed data into the portal, which has a Dashboard feature for parents.
“One of the things about the Dashboard is that parents will have to have access to it. A parent has a right to know everything that is in a student’s record,” Gallagher said.
Lake Placid schools have had a web-based parent interface for five years, Catania said.
“Lake Placid already provides parents with access daily to their child’s information.”
What is new is the third-party data-collection process via inBloom, which is raising concern among parents around New York.
On Nov. 13, a group of 12 parents in New York City filed a restraining order against the State Education Department, Commissioner Dr. John King and inBloom, saying that disclosure of private student information without parental consent is a violation of Personal Privacy Protection Law.
“Here, it hasn’t been an immediate concern, as priorities go,” Catania said of the general tenor of data reporting in his district.
“That’s not to say parents are not concerned. There are concerns nationwide. We certainly do everything we can to handle our student’s information with the level of privacy and confidentiality it deserves.”
State Ed spokesman Tom Dunn said the state has been collecting student data for 15 years.
But the new system is designed to sort and deliver data back to districts for use in making decisions about academics and resources.
COST TO TAXPAYERS
Portal fees to the state will come from Race to the Top funding for the first two years, Dunn said.
But, after that, the expense becomes part of the taxpayer-funded school budget.
The data portals are expected to begin operation this winter, he said.
“There is a great concern being expressed about privacy. We hear that. That is one reason why our approach is to go through encryption (using inBloom) to address security concerns and privacy,” Dunn said.
“The analogy that I use for inBloom is that it is a ‘storage closet.’ It is the place where the data is sent on an encrypted basis.
“The three dashboards will access the encrypted data at inBloom and make it available to parents and educators to inform their students’ education.”
Area schools have not activated the portals.
Meantime, the State Legislature is still wrangling with what defines a “unique student identifier,” the data specific to each student.
The Assembly passed related Truth About Testing bills before summer recess last June. A companion Senate bill (S5932) relating to student identifiers was drafted on Sept. 11 this year and moved to the Committee on Rules.
Both bills require written consent from parents for the state to disclose education records.
State Ed expects the Dashboard system to be open for parents to use later this school year.
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Data Portal descriptions are on the State Education website: www.engageny.org/search/site/portal inBloom has a description of data storage policy and uses: https://www.inbloom.org/faq