In a previous article “What Exactly Is Common Core?” I went into some detail about what the Common Core Initiative is. In this article I will start to explain the “Common Core Standards – Data Collection and Mining”. The purpose of this article is to provide a firm understanding of the collection and mining of our children’s personal data. It will also provide an abundance of knowledge and facts to aid in debating proponents of Common Core.
In order to keep this article within a reasonable length, I will not be able to cover every aspect of the data collection and mining. Instead, I will set the stage as to how the data collection and mining came to be while demonstrating Common Core’s part in the data collection and mining of our children. I will go into great detail about what is being collected and mined in another article.
Before I get into the Common Core aspect of the data collection and mining, I will need to provide an in-depth history about how this all came about. Let’s get started with a couple definitions..
The process of gathering and measuring information on variables of interest, in an established systematic fashion that enables one to answer stated research questions, test hypotheses, and evaluate outcomes.
The practice of automatically searching large stores of data to discover patterns and trends that go beyond simple analysis.
Now that we have that out of the way lets get some history.
The U.S. Department of Education is legally prohibited from creating or maintaining a national database, but the “Education Science Reform Act of 2002” gave the federal government the authority to publish guidelines for the states to develop “State Longitudinal Data Systems” (SLDS).
Over the past decade, several new federal incentives and federally funded data models have been initiated in order for states to monitor our children’s early years, performance in college, success in the workforce and much more through following individuals systematically and efficiently across state lines. This huge expansion of state databases is providing the foundation for a national database filled with our children’s and families’ personal data.
The “Department of Education” laid the foundation for a nationally linkable, comprehensive database in January 2012 when they set forth regulations altering the “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act” (FERPA). FERPA once guaranteed that parents had access to their children’s personally identifiable information and it further ensured the privacy of our children’s data by restricting schools from sharing this information with third parties.
What is personally identifiable information? It is defined by FERPA as information
“that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty,”
This includes names of family members, living address, Social Security number, date and place of birth, disciplinary record, biometric record and much more.
Through regulation, The “Department of Education” has molded FERPA so that any government or private entity that the department deems fit can be given access to any and all of our children’s personally identifiable information. In addition any postsecondary institute and/or workforce education program can also be given this data. This regulatory change was drawn up and initiated with no congressional oversight or legislation.
The SLDS can collect and link our children’s personally identifiable information across state lines. A task forces funded by the “Department of Education” and “special interests groups” have released guidelines for building the SLDS. Many of the guidelines were compiled in the “National Education Data Model” (NEDM) v. 3.0, a project funded by “Department of Education” and overseen by the “Council for Chief State School Officers” (CCSSO), one of the two organizations that created Common Core.
The NEDM website states that, 18 states and numerous local educational agencies are using this model for their state longitudinal databases. Concentrating data collection around one or even a few models means that states are getting closer and closer to keeping the same data and using the same interoperable technology to store it. Forty-six states currently have databases that can track our children from preschool through the workforce.
In addition to funding data models, the federal government has driven a national database through legislation. The 2009 federal stimulus bill created the “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” as a new, one-time appropriation of $53.6 billion. With this money, the “Department of Education” funded states that would commit to develop and use prekindergarten through postsecondary and career data systems, among other criteria.
Additionally, $4.35 billion was given to make competitive grants under the new “Race to the Top” (RTTT) challenge. RTTT is an ongoing competition for federal funds that awards tax dollars to states that promise to accept national changes in their state education policy, including adopting the Common Core Standards. In order for a state to receive RTTT funds they must accept Common Core and commit to designing, developing, and implementing statewide, preschool through workforce, longitudinal data systems that can be used in part or in whole by other states.
Data collection must follow the 12 criteria set down in the “America COMPETES Act”, which requires states to collect any and all information determined necessary to address alignment and adequate preparation for success in postsecondary education. The 23 states that did not receive RTTT grants but are part of one of the two consortia developing assessments aligned to Common Core are also committed to collecting data on our children from preschool through the workforce.
In 2011 the “Department of Education” attached RTTT funding to its new “Early Learning Challenge” (ELC). ELC gives this money to states that meet standards and mandates for early education programs. One of the standards that states must meet to receive these special funds involve establishing statewide databases, known as “Common Education Data Standards” (CEDs)
The heavy involvement of the federal government in enticing states to create databases of student-specific data that are linked between states is creating a de facto centralized database. Additionally, in 2012 the “U.S. Department of Labor” announced $12 million in grants for states to build longitudinal databases linking workforce and education data. Before our eyes a “National Database” is being created in which every public school child’s personal information and academic history will be stored.
At the beginning of his article I stated,
“I will also demonstrate Common Core’s part in the data collection and mining.”
Although I have demonstrated this throughout the article I want to make it very clear.
The adoption and implementation of the “Common Core State Standards” has furthered the government’s expansion efforts. The authors of Common Core make it perfectly clear that the success of the standards hinges on the increased collection of student data.
The “Data Quality Campaign” clarifies this by explaining that Common Core’s emphasis on evaluating teachers based on their students academic performance and tracking students college and career readiness requires broader data collection. The authors of the Common Core Standards have been heavily involved in developing data models and overseeing data collection. The “National Governors Association” started an initiative to collect data on states’ postsecondary institutions.
The “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation” not only funded the creation of Common Core but currently funds the “Data Quality Campaign”, one of the leading voices on database expansion and alignment. The Gates Foundation and CCSSO previously partnered with the “National Center for Education Statistics”, a division of the “Department of Education”, to build the “State Core Data Model”, a model that includes data from early childhood through the workforce. CCSSO now manages another data model: the “National Education Data Model”.
The connection between those pushing Common Core and these expansive new databases is obvious. The “Common Education Data Standards”, a division of the “Department of Education“, even says,
“The State Core Model will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia.”
With that said, you should now be able to see a definite and distinct connection as to Common Cores part in the data collation and mining of our children’s personal data.
As many of you can tell, that have been following the series, I have changed gears in writing this article. The data collection and mining of our children’s personal information is a serious one. In fact, so serious, that I believe that this is one of the fronts that we will need to win in order to fully repeal Common Core. As you can see, from the words above, Common Core is reliant on the ability to collect and mine the data of our children. If we are able to hinder or stop the data collection, Common Core will crumble under its own weight.
- Opting out of Common Core will help defeat standardized testing and the collection of our children’s personal data.
- Defunding RTTT and the ELC is a strong step in stopping the madness but seeing that both of these programs are priorities of the Obama administration, it will be difficult.
- The states can choose to reject federal funds, the data systems or Common Core altogther in order to safeguard student data. This is a more realistic approach than defunding RTTT and ELC and can be pushed along by you.
Please contact your state legislators, including your state’s governor, to discuss this issue with them. Ask them about their position on the issue and urge your state officials to reject these national databases of student-specific data.
Your State and School Districts are not helpless even if they accepted RTTT monies. Dr. Stotsky goes into detail on how your State and School Districts can Opt-Out of Common Core. Read,
“How States and School Districts Can Opt Out of Common Core” for more information and details.
My next article will be on the “Common Core – What can I do?”. There is so much to cover with Common Core that it is going to take several ongoing articles just to get a full understanding of the current standards and even more articles in an effort to keep all the information up to date.
Share with others,
Please share this series of article, we need to work together to stop Common Core. Our plans are to educate and inform as many people as possible, untimely repealing the Common Core Initiative. I personally, being from AZ, plan to petition the state of AZ to remove the Common Core Initiative. We can win this, one person at a time, one school at a time and one state at a time but it will take some effort.
What is Common Core Series:
What Exactly Is Common Core?
What is Common Core English All About?
What Is Common Core Math All About?
Common Core And The “National Sexuality Education Standards”
Common Core Standards – Data Collection and Mining
Common Core – What can I do? (Coming Soon)