A post for the Common Core Lemmings…

Please realize that despite its length, this post is a quick overview of where the data on your kids’ is going.  I would need days to research, edit, and truly understand all the connections in order to produce a refined post.  So please take this rough attempt to outline where your kids’ data is going as just that, a rough attempt!

I would like to dedicate this to all the Common Core Lemmings teaching in our classrooms across America.

So all the data that will be collected through Common Core State Standards testing…where’s it going to?  Who will have access to information about your kids?

At the National level there is the National Education Data Model (NEDM).  The National Education Data Model is a P-20 data resource. P-20 is a preschool to work data base.  Think of it as a group that decides what language will be spoken in the country.  The language used to collect and access data is determined by the NEDM.  Think of McDonald’s. They don’t grow potatoes, but they decide what kind, the size, shape, and everyone follows along.  Or maybe Walmart is a better example.  They don’t make the socks, but they give manufacturers parameters and the manufacturers could decide to follow or perish. The NEDM doesn’t collect the data, they will provide one stop shopping for the data about your children…data for free! 400 points of data on children, and more data on teachers, and more on other people.  It is supported but not maintained by the Department of Education and under the auspices on the National Center for Education Statistics. It’s against federal code for the nation to maintain a national database on our kids.  So they are getting around this by saying they are simply promoting data linkages across states, and if all 50 are linked into database that connects every single kid in the nation, well…the government does not consider that a national database.

Almost anyone with a good reason can use the data on the children, it is not really the NEDM’s (that is what non-proprietary means right?).  That data can be used by schools, local education agencies (LEAs), states, policymakers, researchers, community organizations, vendors, school district staff, education vendors, software developers, and researchers to identify the information required for teaching, learning, administrative systems, and evaluation of education programs and approaches. “The Education Data Model strives to be a shared understanding among all education stakeholders as to what information needs to be collected and managed at the local level in order to enable effective instruction of students and superior leadership of schools.” Stakeholder, which is defined as any person, group organization that has a direct or indirect stake in the schools because they can be affected by the schools actions, objectives, or policies.  So basically NEDM exists for anyone who uses student information in their work.

NEDM is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and run by the Council of Chief
State School Officers (CCSS), of Common Core State Standard Fame.  So once again, the United States is funding some non-profits dream of controlling every piece of data collected about our kids. The NEDM was supposedly started to make sure that everyone that is collecting data is collecting the same data, so that all the databases and the country have an easier time talking to one another.  This would better allow stakeholders to find out more about the kids, and helps stakeholders decide what information to collect “in order to meet their data needs.”  By setting the standard, if a state is just starting to collect data they could just follow the NEDM and not have to decide for themselves what data is most important to collect, and if there is data they would like to collect that is not specified in the NEDM…well…

All of the ways the NEDM will be used have not even been thought of yet.  The sky is truly the limit.  Everyone from school administrators to non-profit organizations, to venders will have access to 400 points of information about our kids.  Everything from the bus ride, to why they were out of school, to their nurse visits, to the test scores, to their parents income, to their nickname, to their biometrics. Each kid will have to have a unique student identifier called a Personal Identity Identifier (PPI).  Their biometrics can follow that PPI and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) would allow for fingerprint, retina/iris patterns, voice prints, DNA sequence, facial characteristics, and handwriting to go into that biometric package.  Throw in the kids’ religion, blood type, voting status, weight, and the number of attempts allowed by an instructor on an assignment or number of attempts taken by a student to complete the assignment and folks accessing your kids’ data can get a pretty complete picture.  By the way, that last line was not a joke, it’s for real.

But I guess it will be worth it (that’s a joke) because “it will allow users to evaluate and improve existing data tools, easily share student information across local education agencies or with the state, see the relationships between data elements, and make more-informed decisions based on data.”

Did I mention that these people who will be accessing the data to create new worksheets, teacher training, software, and a million other things will not have to pay a dime.  You children’s information will be given to them for free.  But it gets better…there are already companies, led by the people who were in charge of the non-profit groups that created the database, that will be ready to sell the data back to the states.  You got that right?  Your kid takes a test, the data is collected by state, the state submits it to the NEDM, and then a company who has the kids’ achievement in their best interests, accesses it, organizes it, and gives it back to the state…for a fee.

All of the national data will be hosted here:  http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel (edit 10/5/13-seems the previous page has been taken down, the homesite is here https://www.sifassociation.org/) The Data Model browser will be hosted by Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) which will allow people to search by keyword and browse the data.  The SIF Association is a nonprofit organization…

“which includes as members local and state K-12 education agencies, software vendors, and others in the education community. The organization has created and continues to enhance a vendor-neutral “technical blueprint” for exchanging K-12 data. SIF defines suggested standards for naming, defining, and formatting data elements, as well as the technical specifications to facilitate interaction between software applications to enable applications from different developers to easily interact and exchange data. SIF also includes a data model, depicting the relationships among the data. SIF includes data elements in various areas such as student information, assessment, facilities, finances, food services, transportation, and professional development.

See, the rules laid out by SIF make it easier (cheaper) for venders to get information because Pearson could tap into information of kids in Texas, and then instantly flip to kids in Connecticut because it will all be in one place, because they all used the same standards.

SIF states on their website that it was created in response to a demand from teachers! Apparently teachers were demanding better data so 19 companies meet to figure out how they could corral all the student data in the country into a nice easy to use system. This way it would be easier for them to make software to sell to the schools.  The meetings between these companies and the standards they produced, the standards that these for profit companies told the schools to follow eventually became known as SIF. So guess who the lead company was?  Microsoft.  Guess who unveiled SIF to the world at a meeting of the American Association of School Administrators?  Bill Gates back in 1999.  So now they had a system in place, but now needed more data to fill it. Go-go CCSS!!

SIF has a partner with the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) who will help them out…I guess it just too much data for one group.

“Among the organization’s (PESC) missions is to create data standards to facilitate the exchange of data among postsecondary institutions. As a “standards” resource, PESC provides range of standards for higher education, cataloguing data elements, definitions, and code sets, and specifying technical requirements. The PESC standards for student transcripts have been cross-walked to the SIF standards for student records to ensure comparability and completeness. PESC and SIFA continue to work together to promote interoperability. K-12 education agencies may use PESC standards to enable data sharing with postsecondary institutions about students bound for or enrolled in Higher Education.”

Basically SIF will track your kid from pk-12, and PESC will take over from college on.

PESC is an organization of colleges and universities; professional and commercial organizations; data, software and service providers; nonprofit organizations and associations; and state and federal government agencies.  One thing that they are working on is international interoperability.  Basically figuring out how to have your kids’ data flow seamlessly between the systems of “communities of interest” wherever and whenever they need it without any barriers.

Now here is a confusing one coming up…I am not making that up, I am truly confused so I apologize if I give out some inaccurate information about the next level of data.  Below NEDM is the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS).  Now if I have it right, the NEDM would set the language for the data to be collected, and the CEDS would set the language on the exchanging, comparison, and understanding of the data across state level P-20s.  Now of course it is totally voluntary, states don’t have to do it.  States don’t also have to have seat belt laws…unless they want federal highway dollars. State will get the money needed to set-up the systems to comply with CEDS, there are like 13 federal grants they can get.  Of course, they have to do a lot of things first to comply, the biggest is to get all sorts of data about the kids to be automatically transferred to the NEDM.  Once there, I am not sure how it “will enable us to bring together our data in new and important ways and will empower us to use those data to the benefit of each teacher and each learner – and, thus, to the benefit of the nation.”

The CEDS Consortium is led by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), of Common Core State Standard fame, and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO), that has partnered with the National Center on Education Statistics (NCES) who will bring an exciting website to the deal.  So basically all private groups are setting this up, telling the governments what to do, and then the NCES will open up a domain for them to use so that it will appear as though the United States of America is standing behind this and keeping your kids’ information safe. CEDS other partners include SIF, PESC, and the Data Quality Campaign (DQC).

The DQC is basically lobbyists and advocates to get more student data, because the more data they get people to collect, the more successful teacher I will be.   DQC’s founder and director, Aimee Guidera, worked for Center for Best Practices at the National Governors Association.  You know, the one half of the team who brought us the Common Core State Standards.  So I guess first you make the standards, and then you get a job figuring out how to data mine them.

The connections between people, their current positions, and the organizations they worked for are amazing.  If Common Core and all these data groups were people they would get arrested for incest and inbreeding. Just one example Alex Jakl worked for CCSSO, then worked on the CEDS, then at SIF, and now is one of the heads of Choice P20 which has partnered with Microsoft and Pearson to move your kids’ data from the database to stakeholders. One would be their partner the Public Consulting Group (PCG). Public consulting group provides schools with data management software to deal with problems like student behavior and 504 compliance.  PCG will do quite well getting their data from a company whose leader set-up the system originally for non-profits.

How about one more example of inbreeding…the database was a project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided most of the funding, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and school officials from several states. Rupert Murdoch, you know that guy right? Has been putting his money into education and created Amplify Education, that’s the company he hired the former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein to run. Amplify built the infrastructure over the past 18 months and then the Gates Foundation turned the database over to a newly created nonprofit, inBloom Inc to run it.  One of the heads of inBloom is Sharren Bates who in the past worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  inBloom received $110,000,000 from Mr. Bill Gates to get started, and will reportedly start charging states in 2015.

The last piece of the data puzzle is the The P20 State Core Logical Data Model developed as part of the Common Data Standards (CDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation.  Each state has a P20 group.  In Connecticut they don’t give a single hint to the fact that they were created to mine data. Each states P20 group that mines data has a choice, manage everything by themselves, or the data can be “maintained and governed as a model by a joint task force of SIFA and PESC on behalf of CCSSO and SHEEO and their member states (to be determined).”  I think states will be saving millions and turn your kids’ data over to them.  Obama brilliantly bribed states into this with the stimulus package a few years ago.  To get certain funds states had to create Longitudinal Data Systems, P20 system from almost birth to workforce.  The Department of Labor is officially a stakeholder in this system somehow, so anything thing they have on you, or anything you do that is connected to their funds would be turned over to the database…unemployment time for example.  I have forgotten the details and it’s too late to research now!

The first stimulus package contained $250,000,000 for states to create Longitudinal Data Systems.  But first to be considered, states had to  create statewide longitudinal data systems that included not only education data for elementary and secondary students, but also post-secondary and workforce information.  The data for the K-12 kids had to reflect the 10 essential elements promoted by the Data Quality Campaign (remember them?) and whose partners include 50can, College Board, and the Fordham Institute.

I would just like to end with a last thought…you might hear that your kids’ information is safe because of HIPPA and FERPA. They both have exceptions written in.

FERPA regulations provide specific conditions under which prior consent from parents is not required for disclosure of personally identifiable student information. The conditions or exceptions for such non-consensual disclosure include the circumstances, below.

1. Directory Information. Information that falls within the FERPA definition of “directory information” may be disclosed without prior consent. At § 99.3, “directory information” is defined as information that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Directory information that may be disclosed without prior consent includes the student’s name, date of birth, grade, address, telephone number, email address, photograph, etc. However, students’ social security numbers, unique identification numbers and other personal information may not be disclosed as directory information.

2. Local Education Agency (LEA )Disclosure to State Education Agency (SEA). LEAs and institutions may disclose personally identifiable student information to (SEA) without prior written consent from the parents or eligible students if such disclosure is in connection with an audit or evaluation of federal or state supported educational programs, or the enforcement of or compliance with federal legal requirements relating to such programs. The SEA must destroy the information when it is no longer needed for the purpose for which it was disclosed. This exception allows the SEA to comply with its federal and State legislative mandates to monitor the delivery of education services.

Any data can be given out to anyone the town, state, or country has hired to do “research” on their behalf.

The reason why any information the school nurse has on your child will end up in the database is because HIPPA does not cover medical care that takes place within a school.

If you made it this far you are nuts! Squirrels will be following you to work.  Again, when i started reading about the Common Core data mine I never thought it was going to turn into a post.  My randoms thoughts while reading, my hand scribbled notes, and my cut and paste paragraphs are what made it into this post.  I am sure there is a mistake,  and I am sure I did not throw “ ” around words that were not mine… it was not intentional!

The other posts on Common Core Standards I have written are here.


  1. Please… Could you, very briefly, tell a foreigner what this CCS is all about? Is it more than just a way to standardize teaching/education with the aim to ensure a “lowest common denominator”? I just don’t get it with all this data collecting you’re talking about.

    Here we have a national standard, in the form of a common curriculum and also common syllabi (for pre-school, elementary, secondary and upper secondary respectively)… All schools (public as well as private) must follow these… We also have standardized national test in some subjects… and all grades are public (which means you may find a specific person’s grades if you search for them)…

    But as a teacher I am very free to interpret the syllabi, and as long as I don’t leave out any of the “central content” I may choose the ways of teaching as much as I want to – taking into account all the various individuals that my classes consists of and provide for them all

    It’s generally considered to be a good way of ensuring that all students get an education as equal as possible – leaving no kid behind… but also ensuring that “high performing” students are challenged and given the opportunity to constantly develop new knowledge and improve their skills.

    It’s NOT a way of holding anyone back, or trying to conform our children… in fact teaching, and allowing, our students of all ages to be critical is stated in the national curricula.

    So… CCS… please tell me what it’s about – something very different from our Swedish system (which though criticized in many ways still is something the vast majority of teachers want to keep)?

    All the best,

    1. Tough one to summarize Magda!

      Let’s say Handelsbanken and TeliaSoneradecided decided to give money to non-profit groups who decided to standardize a system to collect data on every Swedish child. Then they needed a way to collect the data so they decided to form other groups with very friendly names that sound like they represent state governments, but are in fact corporate sponsored. Then these groups hire a couple people to tell every Swedish child what they should learn and at what age. Let’s say these same people were behind creating other schools that would undermine public school teachers and public schools. Everything will depend on whether or not a kid passes this test. So schools tell teachers what to teach and how. After the first tests come back and they find out what scores high and low, they will then know what kind of writing scores the highest and teach every kid to write in the same way so that they can get high test scores. The groups behind this are attempting to tie teachers salary to their kids test scores so that they will be even more inclined to teach to the test.

      So businesses have created what will be taught, how it will be tested,and therefore how it will be taught. The more we do it, the more money they will make.

      The data is collected all along the way to be able to sell more stuff to help kids get higher schools, and I believe more devious things, which I will not write about due to they simply have not happened yet. One example though, lets say you kids score low on a test, but your kids excel in your class. The companies can see this in the data they collect and then you will be called in for grade inflation.

      You have to remember that we have states just as large as Sweden. So nationalizing a curriculum can make total sense in a country like Sweden, and many, many others. But with a country as big and diverse and rich and poor as the United States, expecting every kid who is 8 years old to be able to do the same exact thing is a bit crazy.

  2. Woa! Man. This is a scary way to start a Sunday morning. The problem is so huge and the tentacles so deep. It makes going to McDonald’s and out shopping at Walmart seem like a good idea…a distraction to help me forget about it all while eating my standardized fries and buying pretty new standardized socks. (My socks are what everyone sees while my head is in the sand after all.)

  3. Well that was cheery. We have let this happen, few people are even aware of the connections, and now that the genie is out of the bottle, it is really hard to back up or stop it all together. My hope is that, in NY at least, kids will do so badly on the Pearson created standardized tests, after working with Pearson programs to prepare for the test, that NYS will just throw the whole thing out. But, last year, after getting $14 million dollars to create the test, and screwing up so badly that it was news worthy, Pearson got another chance and kept all their money. So we keep going on.

  4. This is scary. Thank you for posting. The data mining isn’t going to stop. Everything I type here is going into a data bank with my name on it. There are very large forces which our students need to be prepared for. I think I’ll rewrite my syllabus as a “Defense Against the Dark Arts” course now.

  5. I actually agree with you on the issue of government intrusiveness in our daily lives as well as the frightening movement towards central planning and the rise of the “nanny state”. After reading your opus magnus post I guess you are also outraged by:

    -The president using drones to murder American citizens without the benefit of due process.

    -A government which tries to dictate the type of food and drink we may purchase as well as the amounts.

    -An Affordable Healthcare Act which will dramatically increase the cost of healthcare while also rationing it.

    -Mandates issued by the Department of Health and Human Services which requires religions to violate their fundamental values.

    -the fact that the number of our fellow citizens who are on food stamps is at an all-time high.

    -The obscene national debt that we are saddling our children with.

    Only a mindless lemming would go along with any of this!!!!

    1. You know Paul, I wonder if we have been made to feel so busy that we no longer focus on what is most important. The media moguls tell us what we should be focusing on, the self-help folks tell us how to save ourselves, blahhh…

      I have learned so much during the last few months of research that I simply sound crazy when I talk about it. Who would believe that the country created a national system for collecting data on students and then created tests as an excuse to collect it. Was just reading about a new program used by schools called Naviance that will track you right into your working years.

      I don’t think people know what is possible when a company has so much data on you. The stuff Target(department store) does is simply AMAZING!

      1. Maybe I am just dense or too naive, but why exactly do they want this information. What is the motive? I agree it is underhanded to create a test to collect data, and I am not saying it isn’t creepy, but I feel like I am missing the point. Why do they want it and what does it mean for them to have this information?

        1. That is my next post Brenda…exactly how can they collect the info and what can you do with 400 points of data on person from K-20, and into the workforce.

  6. Is this happening in private schools too? As hard as it was to read this information I appreciate that you shared it. It’s crazy.

    1. Shannon…what scares me is that no kid will be safe. I know that in Oklahoma they want even homeschool kids to go through this system.

  7. Paul, I love your blog! Have you looked in American Institutes for Research (AIR) yet? This is the company doing the assessments for SBAC – I don’t know who’s doing PARCC’s.

    So here’s the relevance to this post on data collection. AIR is “one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research organizations,” as it says on their website. Why would a behavioral science organization be creating “educational” assessments? I’ll leave that for the insightful reader to answer.

    “They” need all this data on your kids and mine so they can play the parents, and decide what’s best for them – guide them into their “best fit” for a career. Common Core is by definition “college- and career-ready standards.” It erases the classical understanding of what education is, and replaces it with “workforce training.” No longer will kids be learning much about the great thinkers of the world, or the great ideas of human history, or the beauty of math, science and poetry. Those things – which are the CORE of a true education – will be minimized and incidental to the great work of “preparing a workforce.” That’s why they “need” all that information on your children – how they act, how they respond to certain situations, whether they have health problems, etc, etc.

    Check out AIR. You’ll find a lot of interesting information.

  8. I can’t believe I came to this through Google since although I’m not a regular, I do stop by here when I have free time. I am a mom who homeschooled my children till my older son wanted to go to high school, and my younger son’s special needs became too challenging for me to handle at home. And all this nonsense is so hugely a part of why I homeschooled to begin with. I stop into your blog to give me hope, since you are so clearly an amazingly caring teacher, and my kids have been thus far blessed with the same. However, I never thought that I’d end up here as a result of a PTA meeting where the middle school principal talked about the transition, and all my homeschool friends on facebook are screeching about Common Core. I sincerely miss living in homeschool bliss, and my heart truly breaks that creative teachers like you and many of my kids’ will have to conform to this rigidity.

    We are already getting mail about seminars on how to afford college for our still high school junior, addressed to our names. And having been a homeschooler for so long, I knew the only place they could have gotten our “directory information” originated with the school itself. Which means they are releasing “directory information” to small local businesses; is this considered “research” on behalf of the schools? And this is just the small-time local stuff, and doesn’t take into account the brochures we are already getting for colleges!

    So what do we, as *parents* do? In one of your posts about Common Core (yes, I went through them and read them all) you talk about how you wrote a letter to Naviance to opt-out for yourself, (Naviance! How naive I was to use it for making a resume so my 16yo could go job hunting; now the data miners know his outside, non-school affiliated activities too!) but how are you protecting your children? I’ve come across opt-out templates for Common Core, some demanding the children take the tests with pencil and paper, and some demanding that the kids not take them at all. And what about Naviance? And Google Docs (which is really where my suspicion of data collection started, and prompted me to start researching all of this)? I know your blog focuses mostly on the teaching aspect of your life, but I’d love to read a post about your feelings on all of this as a parent. The only other parents I know *really* talking about this are homeschoolers; fellow schooling parents are completely clueless.

    P.S. Being a visual learner, I would love to see an RSA video on all the corporate connections of the common core. Or at least a chart 😉

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