Why Should Schools Withdraw from RTT if they have concerns over Student Data and Privacy?

I have done extensive research on this subject. Unfortunately, it is posted all over FB and I haven’t had the chance to consolidate on my blog yet. This post is a work in progress. Here is what I have posted elsewhere on FB, to start this post:

Spackenkill Teaches Common Core Despite Dropping Race to the TopPosted by: Greg MakerPosted date: November 02, 2013In:…
  • Anna Shah In the article above, it states “Board President Arji Kurzum said that giving out basic information on students is fine, but tracking every discipline issue, such as every time a student is sent to the principal’s office, is too much information.
    Data from Race to the Top is stored in InBloom, a database where students’ information is shared.”Just to clarify,

    NYSED will have you believe that InBloom and the longitudinal data system is simply to create personalized learning for students so that schools can communicate with one another and within districts for ease and efficiency.

    As if there was any question in our minds, that is far from the truth.

    Data will be reported in an “electronic transcript that follows each student from Pre K through to career.” The data will be accessible by and reported to virtually all State and County agencies as discussed below. There are many exceptions in FERPA and the scope of those “authorized” to access info has been broadened and/or remains vague and unclear. Which means, a lot of employees/volunteers/authorized personnel (which means essentially anyone affiliated with the organization) of these agencies will have access to sensitive or protected info.

    Courts seal youthful offender records so that offenses don’t cloud and follow perpetrators after they have served their time.
    Doctors have HIPAA privacy laws and there are serious consequences for violating HIPAA.
    But, education records do NOT have the same protection and there is virtually no recourse.

    Here is the precise recitation and purpose of the RTT driven expansion and adaption os statewide longitudinal data systems as per NYSED’s response in an RTT report. By the way, they are not only reporting students but teachers as well. This is positively Orwellian:

    “”USDE Question:

    Describe the State’s progress, from the time of the application through June 30, 2011 in expanding, consistent with its approved application, statewide longitudinal data systems to include or integrate data from special education programs, English language learner programs, early childhood programs, at-risk and dropout prevention programs, and school climate and culture programs, as well as information on student mobility, human resources (i.e., information on teachers, principals, and other staff), school finance, student health, postsecondary education, and other relevant areas, with the purpose of connecting and coordinating all parts of the system to allow important questions related to policy, practice, or overall effectiveness to be asked, answered, and State-reported information incorporated into effective continuous improvement practices. In addition, describe the progress in working together with other States to adapt one State’s statewide longitudinal data system so that it may be used, in whole or in part, by one or more other States, rather than having each State build or continue building such systems independently. When applicable, please provide the date(s) associated with relevant updates to laws and regulations (e.g., date of passage, date of effect).

    NYSED -reported response: The vision of the New York State Education Department’s P-20 Longitudinal Data System is to LINK DATA ACROSS FIVE STATE AGENCIES WITH THE GOAL OF FOLLOWING STUDENTS FROM EARLY CHILDHOOD THROUGH POST SECONDARY EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT. The data will be used in reports at both aggregate and disaggregated levels. State agencies will use linking techniques to organize data so that they can be easily and transparently accessed. The system will support various stakeholders with a data source that will develop and improve the New York State education system.

    The state envisions a fully-developed P-20 (PreK – post secondary – workforce) longitudinal data system to be the key resource upon which all other educational reform proposals rely. This data system will provide information to educators and others that will allow them to make better instructional decisions—from teacher training to student-specific interventions—so that all students are able to reach their academic potential.

    By working in collaboration with other state agencies, NYSED will be able to establish a P-20 data system without duplication of effort and cost. It will allow NYSED and other agencies to link data without the need for agencies to unnecessarily add new regulations or seek legal policies to collect data out of their purview. In the end it will provide a more robust state data system.

    These enhancements, both completed and planned, include the following components:

    The ability to link teachers and other professionals to their students (now in effect). This link enables all of the following:

    Analysis of the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs and teacher certification processes.

    Creation of a principal and teacher evaluation system by linking teachers to their student’s assessment results.

    Expansion of data on English Language Learners (ELLs) (planned). New York State continues to plan for the expansion of data elements collected on ELLs, including a full analysis of the phenomenon of the Students with Interrupted Formal Education.

    Inclusion of systematic survey results on the school environment (planned). New York continues to plan the implementation of surveys of school climate.

    Creation of a system to track student progress throughout P-20 with an accompanying “Early Warning System” (planned). This overall reporting system will identify patterns of performance and behavior that are predictive of failure and the likelihood of a student becoming a dropout, not being prepared for college and career, or potential failure to complete post-secondary programs. We have received responses to a request for information in preparation of issuing a request for proposals to build this system.

    Creation of a full P-20 system (higher education links now in effect; links with State agencies planned). New York State has linked the NYSED data system to the comprehensive data systems for its two public university systems: the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY). Data from public and private higher education institutions throughout the nation have been received through a data exchange agreement with the National Student Clearinghouse.

    In a parallel effort, NYSED is working with the New York State Education Department (NYSED), including its fiscal, teacher certification, and adult education components, the New York State Department of Labor (DOL), New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), New York State Department of Health (DOH), and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (Tax and Finance). Other Participating Agencies include the New York State Council on Children and Families (CCF), New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and the New York State Office for Technology (OFT). The combined Chief Information Officers (CIOs) of these agencies shall decide how to link student information, first through matching and then through a common identification number that will follow individuals throughout their lives. Once this is completed, the State agencies will link these databases into a full P-20 data system.
    The expansion of a version of the P-20 longitudinal data system designed specifically to support research and policy analysis (planned). Data is already made widely available to researchers; these efforts will be expanded). This database will:

    Comply with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requirements and all other applicable privacy and confidentiality requirements by stripping all personally identifiable information from the database.

    Be available to all State policy makers, researchers, and the public through a series of pre-formed and pre-aggregated data sets.

    Ensure disaggregated data is available to researchers in accordance with NYSED’s data governance procedures.””



    Describe the State’s progress, from the time of the application through June 30,…See More
  • Anna Shah I forgot to point out, as you can see from above they are planning to link the PII and share all this sensitive information state to state.Personally, where are their priorities? I don’t mind if they want to share convicted felon data and information state to state but why student info?

    Also forgot to point out, for those who don’t already know, FERPA was not changed through legislation. It was modified administratively. USDE undermined legislative policy making and avoided a veto of the proposed FERPA changes by issuing a unilateral executive order to change the language of FERPA. In other words, it did not go through a bill, was not subject to approval by elected officials and the changes were not put to vote – there was no legislation behind the FERPA amendments. Mu guess is USDE bypassed it, because the changes would have never made it through they are so over reaching and undermine the legislative intent of FERPA- which is primarily to protect confidential/sensitive student information from being disseminated and/or disclosed, to prevent “harm” from such exposure.

    The net result, is the umbrella of protection afforded to student education records (which includes, medical. behavior, psychological, academic info etc) has been significantly weakened. FERPA changes broadened the scope of “authorized” individuals who would be entitled to access authorized confidential information on behalf of these agencies. The changes made also widen the scope of allowed uses that except FERPA privilege from applying to education records/ In other words, FERPA now makes it a whole lot easier for whoever to view, collect, access, and use sensitive PII student information obtained from those education records.

    If you read the objective above, it is clear from the following language that they plan to make unilateral changes to policy and regulation as are needed in the future to bypass legislation and shut public opinion out – “……It will allow NYSED and other agencies to link data WITHOUT THE NEED FOR AGENCIES TO UNNECESSARILY ADD NEW REGULATIONS OR SEEK LEGAL POLICIES TO COLLECT DATA OUT OF THEIR PURVIEW.”

    In other words, NYSED plans to access information which they may not have a legal right to and they plan to change state regulation or law to do it to make that happen as they see fit and for their own purposes.

    This is not a conspiracy theory, when I read this I thought it was all a joke. Most people don’t realize the above and Im sure most elected officials are not aware. Those that are, are now put in the untenable position of having to pass bills and try to block all of this from happening fighting a battle that is all up hill.

    There is no reason for student info, PII and education records to become State fodder. This is just my personal opinion, but please make others aware of the above info and links so that they can read for themselves and draw their own conclusions because as you can plainly see that is ALL FACT.

    In fact, feel free to invite more people in the district to join this page so they can ask questions, make observations of their own or read info posted for themselves.

  • Anna Shah EPIC filed a lawsuit against USDE which is pending. They offer some fact based info to explain the changes made to FERPA that I am concerned about. It was dismissed October 1, 2013 due to lack os standing. But the site has great info.Read more:
    December 9, 2008: The Education Department issued regulations amending the FERPA. These amendments made several significant changes to the FERPA regulations. For example, in light of the Supreme Court decision in Owasso Independent School Dist. No. I011 v. Falvo (534 U.S. 426 (2002)), the regulations exclude “grades on peer-graded papers before they are collected and record by a teacher” from the definition of “education records.” The amendments also changed the definition of “personally identifiable information” to include a definition for “biometric record.” Under the regulations, biometric information includes “fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.” Additionally, the 2008 regulations permit educational agencies and institutions to disclose education records without consent to “contractors, consultants, volunteers, and other outside parties providing institutional services and functions or otherwise acting for an agency or institution.”
    December 2, 2011: The Education Department issued regulations amending FERPA. Among other changes, the regulations reinterpreted the statutory terms “authorized representative,” “education program,” and “directory information.” The regulations defined a previously undefined term, “authorized representative,” to include non-governmental actors as “representatives” of state educational institutions. The agency also defined “education program” as any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education, including, but not limited to early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, special education, job training, career and technical education, and adult education, regardless of whether the program is administered by an education authority.” Under FERPA, authorized representatives have access to “student or other records which may be necessary in connection with the audit and evaluation of Federally-supported education programs.” The regulations also authorize schools to publicly disclose student ID numbers that are displayed on individual cards or badges. The regulations went into effect on January 3, 2012.


    The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) focuses public attention on eme…See More
  • Anna Shah Lastly, here is the final draft of FERPA with commentary and serious concerns noted by USDE as a matter of record that went into effect January 2012. In examining the commentary, you will see that very serious and legitimate concerns were raised by, among other entities, the National School Board Association and others but that USDE took NO ACTION to address or resolve these concerns at the outset. Instead, they were summarily dismissed. It all happened so fast, hush hush and without proper legislation so that the new FERPA took effect start to finish before elected officials and powerhouses could catch on, mobilize and challenge it. This is why it is an issue NOW, after the fact people are finding out.The protection afforded by FERPA as bee shredded, the language is vague and ambiguous and too many entities/personnel qualify as being “authorized” to have access to confidential records.

    Read for yourself:


  • Anna Shah Ok, just one more important point – child identity theft.FERPA does not protect SS numbers from education records nor does it preclude its use as a student identifier. While USDE suggests that companies should probably not use or store SS numbers, FERPA does not preclude it. So, SS are common and admissible forms of student info found in education records and are subject to disclosure as PII using the RTT dashboards which link and network NYSED to outside agencies as I discussed above.

    Use of Social Security Numbers
    Comment: Several commenters requested clarification on whether Social Security numbers (SSNs) could be maintained in an SLDS or used as a linking variable. These commenters stated that they had been hindered in their efforts to build a robust SLDS by limitations on the exchange of SSNs. Other commenters suggested that the use of SSNs, names, and dates of birth be minimized, and that SLDS should instead create a common identifier that would allow the SEA and its authorized representative to match student records data without an unnecessary transfer of SSNs and other identifying information.
    Discussion: We understand that data contained within an SLDS cannot be used effectively without using unique linking variables. Without the use of linking variables, States would be unable to monitor the educational progress and experiences of individual students as they progress through the education system across grade levels, schools, institutions, and into the workforce.

    FERPA does NOT prohibit the use of a SSN as a personal identifier or as a linking variable.

    However, we agree with commenters that the use of SSNs should be minimized given that SSNs are often used by criminals for identity theft.

    The Federal Government itself attempts to minimize the use of SSNs. See, e.g., Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Directive M–07–16, ‘‘Safeguarding Against and Responding to the Breach of Personally Identifiable Information,’’ and ‘‘Guidance for Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems,’’ (National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 2011- 602). The importance of limiting SSN use is recognized in FERPA, as schools are prohibited from designating SSNs as directory information. Hence, while FERPA does not expressly prohibit States from using SSNs, best practices dictate that States should limit their use of SSNs to instances in which there is no other feasible alternative.

    Changes: NONE

  • Anna Shah This is why it was important to withdraw from RTT – without the dashboard, the State cannot link and network student records agency to agency. Yes, the info can be stored inBloom, but by NYSEDs own admission, the schools and agencies cannot “talk to each other.”For parents and students, this is a VERY GOOD THING ultimately, IMO. Read the above, pass the info along or invite others to this page and decide for yourself. Thx


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