Data News in Brief

Assessment Group Approves Privacy Rules for Student Data

By Catherine Gewertz — January 06, 2014 1 min read

The PARCC testing group approved a new policy last week that is intended to safeguard personally identifiable information about students collected as part of states’ common-core-assessment regimens.

The action comes as debate continues to swirl about how student data will be used by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the other federally funded assessment consortium, Smarter Balanced. Some critics fear the two state coalitions will hand over student data to the federal government.

Under PARCC’s new policy, states will provide personally identifiable information, such as students’ names, addresses, identification numbers, or dates of birth, along with their performance on PARCC exams, to the consortium and its contractors, but that information “will never be provided by PARCC to the federal government without written authority from a state, or unless legally required to do so by subpoena or court order.”

Further, no state agency or school district will ever disclose students’ Social Security numbers to PARCC or its contractors, the policy says.

The information that states and districts convey to PARCC will be used “to develop and implement” the assessment system, including to pilot-test, field-test, and validate the assessments and to analyze test results and report them back to states, the policy says. It will also be used to conduct studies aimed at improving instruction and to evaluate state- and federally funded programs.

The policy details a range of protections that will be built into handling of student data. They include limiting internal access to student information, requiring that electronically stored data be encrypted, and prohibiting the unencrypted transmission of information from PARCC or its contractors to any third party wirelessly or across a public network.

A version of this article appeared in the December 11, 2013 edition of Education Week as Assessment Group Approves Privacy Rules for Student Data

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