Educators wary over test’s use of student data

Fueling growing unrest among some school officials regarding student privacy and a new assessment test, the state education department said it is not ready to release information on who has access to data collected on students.

The Massachusetts Association of School Committees last month asked the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for a list of vendors who receive student data collected through testing and by school districts. But the DESE said this is the first such request the department has ever received and that the information is not readily available.

“What I see here is a legitimate issue, and frankly I’d like to know the answers to, one, who gets access to the info, and, two, why aren’t they giving the answers out?” said Glenn Koocher, executive director of MASC, who said he was contacted by at least a dozen school committee members from across the state asking him to make a formal request for the information.

“This is student data and I would hope that it’s not going to marketers who will be bombarding them,” said Mel Webster, a member of the North Reading School Committee.

Jackie Reis, DESE media relations coordinator, declined to answer questions from the Globe regarding who has access to student data collected through assessment testing; how many vendors are under contract to receive student data; how vendors are vetted; how data are shared; if student data are sold and if so, for how much; vendor contract lengths; and who is ultimately responsible at the DESE for data collection, sharing, and vetting vendors. Reis said answers to these questions would have to wait till mid-May.

Read the article.

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