Tracking Your Child from Preschool into the Workforce in the name of Improving Education

Tracking Your Child from Preschool into the Workforce in the Name of Improving Education

KellySimoneOp-Ed by Kelly Simone

As the debate over the Common Core State Standards heats up both nationally and across the State of Wyoming, elected officials have cause to take notice. Parents, teachers, administrators and citizens are growing increasingly concerned about this nationally driven attempt at education reform. The local control we once enjoyed has been turned over. Interestingly, little attention has been given to the creation of a State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) that is now being built in Wyoming.

The State Longitudinal Data System is a direct result of Wyoming’s agreement to take State Fiscal Stabilization Funds under the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Wyoming agreed to build this data collecting behemoth when they took $57 million dollars from the federal government.

The purpose of the SLDS is to collect and store data on students that can be used to analyze education policy. This data will be collected on children beginning before kindergarten and continue for four years into the workforce. It makes sense that policy makers would want to know if the Common Core State Standards are really ensuring “college and career readiness”….especially when they’ve never been field tested in any U.S. classroom. So you may ask, why do we need to collect data on Wyoming public school students from Pre-K into the workforce? Answer: to document whether or not this experiment on our students actually works.

More concerning, is the fact that over 20 state agencies are now signing a contract (MOU) to begin sharing data. This is unprecedented and in fact was never before possible, due to FERPA law. This law was designed to protect private student information. However, the US Dept. of Education amended FERPA law in 2012, so that state agencies can now share data. Interestingly, the US Dept. of Education did this through a regulations change, not an act of Congress.

The obvious question then becomes; what state agencies will now be sharing this information? The answer is currently, more than 20. In fact, additional agencies can request to become a party to this data sharing agreement. Right now, the Wyoming Department of Family Services, Workforce Services and Health are only among a few who will now be able to view and share data on Wyoming public school students.

In the 2012 budget session, the Wyoming Legislature approved Enrolled Act 29. In that budget was an appropriation to fund the SLDS, but it was buried in section 326. The appropriation was for over $5 million. Data collection on Wyoming students is authorized by Wyoming statute W.S.21-2-204 section (h). This statute authorizes the collection & usage of student data for educational purposes. However, the scope of the SLDS far surpasses educational purposes. How does the ability of Wyoming Department of Health to access and view student data improve a child’s public school education? The inclusion of non-education and non-assessment data in this repository is beyond an overreach of government control- it’s an invasion of privacy.

All parents, teachers, administrators and elected officials ought to seek to understand the risks involved when collecting massive amounts of data on citizens. The benefits are arguable, but the ramifications are serious. Instead of spending millions of taxpayer dollars on funding the SLDS, perhaps the state would do better to fund things that really help our students succeed.

For a document outlining the concerns with the SLDS, please visit: http://wyomingcitizensopposingcommoncore.com/concerns-slds/

Sincerely,

Kelly Simone

Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core

Kelly Simone is a practicing Physician Assistant in Urgent Care Medicine.  She is  a Jackon Hole High School alumni.   She has two daughters, ages 6 & 8, and they are THE REASON she has dedicated much of her time to researching data changes and education reform in Wyoming and our nation.  Kelly and her husband have been married for almost 11 years, and currently reside in Cody, Wyoming. 

Letter to School Board Members on Data and Privacy

Below is the letter that I read to the Board of Trustees for Sweetwater County School District Number One. This is something that ALL parents and community members should be aware of and concerned about. Our local school boards will be entering into an agreement (MOU) that they have not officially agreed too. In doing so, they are giving away their power to represnt YOU as parents and community members, especially when it comes to your children’s data. We aren’t talking about the data they have always taken on our children.  This is a statewide inter-operable (shares with other agencies) system that will share ALL information that could include a health record or disciplinary record from P20 (preschool through college and the workforce) system.

You may read the letter below or listen to me present to the board in the video recording my husband took (forgive the amateur video – but the sound system is great!)

Board Members,

My name is Christy Hooley and I am a teacher from Sweetwater County School District #2.  I taught both 5th and 6th grade at Monroe Intermediate School.   I recently resigned my position to focus on an issue that is dear to my heart, the Common Core State Standards and the various issues it brings to teachers and students across our state and nation.  In doing so I have found others that have the same concerns, and I stand here representing the group, Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core.

One of these key issues that comes along with the CCSS is the creation of the State Longitudinal Database that will be inter-operable with other agencies.   Due to some questions arising from this concern the Wyoming Department of Education released a document entitled “Data Governance” for districts to distribute to parents concerned about data. The document covers four “Commonly Asked Questions about Student Data”.  While I appreciate the effort of the WDE to be both transparent and informative, the document does not cover many key issues, nor does it provide any links or references as to fact check sources.

These issues should be addressed and communicated to parents in our community as well as around the state. The creation of the State Longitudinal Data System is a key issue in education reform, and parents have many questions surrounding its creation and use.  Please look over the MOU (memorandum of understanding), which is an agreement between 20+ state agencies to begin sharing student data via the State Longitudinal Data System.  You will find that it states, The creation of the P20 SLDS is called for in the 2012 Legislative Session Enrolled Act 29 Section 326. The creation of P20 SLDS and data sharing shall fulfill the requirements established by the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act”

 Basically, what you have in front of you, to the best mine and our group’s knowledge is… that all of the data that is collected by the local school districts, which you represent, will go into this system.  The Department of Ed is going to sign for you…in doing so you stating that all  agencies listed can receive information.  This is a serious local control issue, this document says districts are required to collect this information, but you are not required to sign this agreement.   This is the information on our kids and families, and it is not just being distributed to every educational entity in the state of Wyoming, but to Department of Workforce Services, Department of Family Services, Department of Health, and any other agency they deem.  This is something that should be brought to the public’s attention as well as our representatives.  I implore that you make this a priority quickly!

As you may be aware I have been giving presentations in our community and around our state concerning education reform and its most recent reform with the Common Core State Standards.  I am often asked questions that I cannot answer by concerned parents.  You are elected to represent our community, and should know the concerns that I’m often approached with.  I would like to give you an opportunity to address these concerns.

 These are questions that I would pose as “Commonly Asked” by parents in our district and across our state:

1) What is the purpose of the State Longitudinal Data System?

2) The recent changes to FERPA by the US Department of Education has allowed for sharing of student data in the SLDS. What state agencies will now be sharing student data?

3) What data dictionary will be used to collect student data from the districts to the WDE for the SLDS?

4) How are parents notified of what data will be collected from their student at the district level and sent to the state?

5) How does WDE notify parents if a data breach occurs?

6) What legal recourse/penalties does an agency face in the event of a data breach on a child’s educational record?

7) How long is student data stored, and how is it destroyed once it is no longer needed?

8) What third party entities have access to student data via the SLDS?

This is the heart of the concerns that parents have about data being collected on their children. The recent changes to FERPA undermine parental consent provisions. It is my understanding that there is not currently Wyoming law that outlines data breach reporting requirements or penalties in the event that a breach occurs. I would ask you as a board to seek answers to these questions from the WDE Data Governance Contacts.

Furthermore, I would ask that you familiarize yourself with the Privacy Bill known as Senate File 36 that was discussed by the Committee on Statewide Education Accountability on Dec. 10th.  It does not include the SLDS, and therefore does not do enough to protect our children’s data. If a health record becomes part of a student’s educational file, it is no longer protected. I would recommend that all student disciplinary and health records be exempt from educational records and remain confidential under all circumstances.

I am not suggesting that Wyoming is sharing this data currently, however there is nothing strong preventing them from doing so, plus school systems are moving more and more to commonality and disaggregating (personally identifiable) student data.  This can be seen by all those partnered with the Data Quality Campaign and policies held by the Council of Chief State School Officers. 

I invite each one of you to attend my next presentation, so you may also become informed on both sides of the education reform issues and better understand the questions and concerns parents may come to you with.  I will be presenting next on January 24th at 7PM at the Green River Library and again at the White Mountain Library in Rock Springs on January 30th, at 7PM.

I hope to hear back from you concerning this extremely important issue.

Thank you,

Christy Hooley

www.wyomingagainstcommoncore.wordpress.com

www.wyomingcitizensopposingcommoncore.com

Update on Action Items and Events!

Dear Citizen,

This week the Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core group traveled to Cheyenne to attend
a meeting with the Governor and also the Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability.
Below is a press release regarding the events including the number of signatures turned into the
Governor. Thank you for your efforts to make this happen!

For more detailed information regarding the Select Committee meeting please visit this link:
http://wyomingcitizensopposingcommoncore.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/SelectCommSummaryDec.pdf
We will soon begin more Call To Action items as we approach the State Board of Education meeting in
January, as they may vote the Next Generation Science Standards into the review process.

Sincerely,
Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core

Governor Mead Carves Out Meeting Time for Citizens Concerned Over State Education Reform

Parents concerned over education reform descended on Cheyenne for a two-day blitz to express their views
to policymakers, meeting Monday with the Governor and testifying at the legislative Education Committee
Tuesday.

The grassroots group Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core met with Governor Mead on
Monday, December 9th at the capitol. The group presented him with a letter signed in just three weeks
by 1,165 citizens in strong opposition to Wyoming’s involvement in Common Core, Smarter Balanced
Assessment Consortium’s standardized testing, and the planned widespread sharing of student data.

One concerned mom said, “I wanted to ask the Governor to reconsider his stance on education reform
in Wyoming. This matter is so serious that as a parent I am considering my options for the education
of my child.”

A father and U.S. Constitution teacher in Wyoming said, “I am concerned about the Next Generation
Science Standards because they advocate anti-Wyoming ideas such as man-made global warming
through fossil fuel burning so I asked the Governor – how do the Next Generation Science
Standards align with Wyoming values?”

Another mom wanted to know in regards to the building of the State Longitudinal Data System,
“Why is it necessary to collect this much data in order to provide Wyoming children with a solid
education?”

Ultimately, the group asked the Governor, among other things, to advise the
appointed State Board of Education not to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards.
Governor Mead was also asked to remove Wyoming from the Smarter Balanced
Consortium as a governing state. The group attended the Select Committee on Statewide Education
Accountability meeting on Tuesday. The Committee voted unanimously on a bill for data privacy.

During public comment a parent encouraged the Committee to create a stringent state privacy plan.
“FERPA was amended by the United States Department of Education in 2012, undermining parental
consent provisions and permitting the sharing of student data across state agencies.” She referenced
Oklahoma House Bill 1989 as a potential model,  which prevents health and discipline records from
becoming part of a student’s education records.

Signatures are still being collected for the letter to the Governor at
http://wyomingcitizensopposingcommoncore.com/letter-governor/