Massachusetts is sharing wide ranging, intrusive student and teacher data with the Federal Government. The people of Massachusetts need to demand that we put a stop to this. Here we will dive into the details of Massachusetts Education Data Collection.
Race to the Top = RttT
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education = Mass DESE
Setting the stage
In 2010 Massachusetts chose to participate in the Race to the Top (RttT) program. RttT is a competitive grant program whereby States agree to submit themselves to federal education mandates in exchange for money. And by the way, if states volunteered to participate in RttT they got a waiver from the universally hated No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program.
For RttT Massachusetts received $250M. In exchange, our schools were sold out…
- Common Core State Standards were adopted
- PARCC Testing (almost) adopted
- Data Collection shifted to the national level
In this article I focus on the Data Collection only. I am including links for ALL my sources. Please report any links that break after I publish. For most links I have saved PDF files.
National Data Collection is not a product of Common Core.
National Data Collection is a product PARCC testing.
National Data Collection is a product of Race to the Top.
What Data Fields are collected?
Your crazy Uncle Buck was right about this stuff.
Next we examine what data is being gathered in Massachusetts. The Mass DESE was kind enough to publish this information on their site. The file is called “Massachusetts SIF Profile Version 1.07”. If the file is pulled down from their site, you can find my download file here. There are 129 data fields on the form. Below are the most objectionable fields. In addition, I am linking here and here to other documents identifying teacher data that is collected and shared. They are marked with (*) asterisks below.
Which of those data fields are shared with the Federal Government?
ALL OF THEM! Don’t take my word for it. I found this language in two places.
1) RttT Executive Summary: This document states in section (C)(2) on Page 8…
“(C)(2) Accessing and using State data (5 points)
The extent to which the State has a high-quality plan to ensure that data from the State’s statewide longitudinal data system are accessible to, and used to inform and engage, as appropriate, key stakeholders (e.g., parents, students, teachers, principals, LEA leaders, community members, unions, researchers, and policymakers); and that the data support decision-makers in the continuous improvement of efforts in such areas as policy, instruction, operations, management, resource allocation, and overall effectiveness.”
I will come back to longitudinal data system below when we expose SIF.
2) PARCC Cooperative Agreement:
PARCC Side Note
If your Massachusetts school committee has not yet decided on MCAS or PARCC for 2014-2015, the aforementioned data sharing requirement is important to consider. School committees need to know that Massachusetts per PARCC “must provide timely and complete access to any and all data collected at the State level.”
How does the data get from my school to the Federal Government?
Below is a diagram that maps out the process for any state participating in RttT.
Never heard of SIF? Neither had I.
SIF has a box in the middle of the diagram above. SIF Association (School Interoperability Framework) is a global non-profit dedicated to technical solutions for governments and their schools to share data. They do not sell products. According to their website, they sell “technical blueprints for enabling diverse software applications to share data.” The Massachusetts DESE “received a $6M State Longitudinal Data Systems grant from the US DOE to work with SIF “to improve the data collection process. The Mass DESE will implement the School Interoperability Framework (SIF) to already existing data collection systems.”
In plain English, SIF will help Massachusetts school districts send data to the Mass DESE.
Why would RttT give states money to fund collection of data from their districts? The answer, of course, is that the federal government wants all that data for their own consumption. They can’t get the data from the states if local districts aren’t sending it! As we mentioned above, under RttT states are obligated to send their data to the federal government. All their data.
The realities of SIF
Rob Curtin is not a household name in Massachusetts, but we should know about his conflict of interest. Rob Curtin is our Massachusetts DESE Director of Education Data Services. He also happens to be on the SIF North American Board of Directors. I can’t make this stuff up. Is there any conflict of interest that our Mass DESE objects to?
Further, the SIF North American Board of Directors is loaded with education inbreeding. Members are from Pearson, Houghton Mifflin, Kimono, and TRECA. These are all companies that benefit financially from the great American sellout of public education.
Lastly, for all my friends wearing tin foil hats, SIF was officially launched in February 1999. The launch was kicked off by Bill Gates. Is there anything in this giant education disaster that does not have Bill Gates’ greasy fingerprints on it?
Shut it down
What else can I say? Nationalized education initiatives need to be avoided like the plague. I wish people would see the big picture; we need to shut down the US Department of Education.
- Common Core is terrible
- PARCC is terrible
- Data Collection is terrible
Short Term Action Items
- Ask your school committee to select MCAS over PARCC for the 2014-2015 school year.
- Ask your school committee to openly reject Common Core and PARCC.
- Use social media to spread your message.
- Support State Reps, State Senators, and Governor candidates that oppose Common Core and PARCC in the November 2014 elections.