Data Mining Students Through Common Core

By:  Mallory Sauer
Data Mining Students Through Common Core

A little-known but key element of Common Core is the collection of personally identifiable data on students — including affective data — for a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).

Awareness is growing rapidly about the recent initiative to bring Common Core Standards to schools across America. Although the standards were supposedly proposed by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) — giving the illusion that the agenda is “state-led,” it was the federal government that endorsed the plan by offering $4 billion in grant money through Obama’s Race to the Top program to cooperating states. Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) recently decided to take action and write a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and is currently seeking co-signers from congressional colleagues. Congressman Luetkemeyer addressed several issues of concern with Common Core — and in the last half of his letter he emphasized the crux of the problem: data mining.

“We understand that as a condition of applying for [Race to the Top] grant funding, states obligated themselves to implement a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) used to track students by obtaining personally identifiable information,” Luetkemeyer said. “We formally request a detailed description of each change to student privacy policy that has been made under your leadership, including the need and intended purpose for such changes.”

Parents might reasonably assume that the “personally identifiable information” collected for the database will include students' test scores and perhaps other measures of academic proficiency. But they would be much less likely to imagine that the federal snoopers envision something far more extensive and invasive than merely tracking academic performance. According to the Department of Education’s February 2013 report Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century, “Researchers are exploring how to gather complex affective data and generate meaningful and usable information to feed back to learners, teachers, researchers, and the technology itself. Connections to neuroscience are also beginning to emerge.” (Emphasis added.)

So far, nine states across the country have already agreed to adopt the data mining process, with parents having no say in this decision. Schools in New York, Delaware, Colorado, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina have committed to “pilot testing” and information disemination via sending students’ personal information to a database managed by inBloom, Inc., a private organization funded largely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This digital warehouse will store the data and then sell it to “education technology companies, content providers and developers to support the creation of products compatible with this infrastructure,” according to the inBloom website.

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