Privacy Problems with Public Testing

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Historically, we do not like it when people mandate things for us without our of feedback. "Taxation without representation" rallied us to break into our own nation. And every now and again I read about something in schools that makes me wonder how close to revolt teachers are. I know many are not happy with the directives coming down from the powers that be.

For example, who thought weighing kids and tracking their BMI was a good idea? I mean, being healthy is good, but would a letter home help ... especially if teachers are required to parent as well? I don't see this benefiting anyone. By making this information public -- in the form of a stickered envelope -- policymakers draw needless attention to kids dealing with a sensitive subject.

And this amassing and publication of personal information is yet another reason to distrust the push for ever more testing. It's something I had not considered (and I hope it does not become a reality), but Brian Polet brought privacy concerns to light in his resignation letter:

More disturbing to me is the inability to guarantee the data privacy of our students. [C]orporate vultures, marketers, and political interest groups [could use a child's data] in a malevolent way. Equally troubling is the ability for educational personnel to manipulate tests and assessments to move any student into certain fields or vocations and to modify behavior without consent or knowledge of the parent.

It is not clear to me how this relates specifically to the Common Core, but the wider issue of public testing is that the data is now available. Those who can gain access are able to use that information to dictate opportunities for students. And seeing how powerful data manipulation can be -- such as the guy who "hacked" OkCupid to get way more dates than anyone else -- coupled with the impact of telling a teacher a student is gifted and the opposite impact of telling a child the same, there are so many opportunities for this information to be misapplied ... even with perfectly pure motives.

Student-Futures
Scores Do Not Determine Personal Outcome

I know there are teachers who work to teach individuals, not classes. I know there are educators who care much more about learning than test results. But the machine is powerful and locking itself in. How much more will be imposed on teachers by those not in the classroom?

Sobering thoughts as we look toward the future. As people deeply interested in education -- not just for our own children -- please pray for those making decisions that they would have wisdom and discernment with how they collect information, apply test results, and direct the future of public academia.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

P.S. From the sounds of it, as I look through my recent Other Posts of Note, the Common Core is helping in some districts. If your local schools need improvement, raising the bar may actually move things forward. But I would like to remind you that your Sonlight legacy proves your success and there is no reason to tweak Sonlight try to to match the Common Core.

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