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.