Welcome to the Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy Newsletter
by Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy Newsletter
Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy Newsletter
Week One: May 18, 2016
This Week in Student Privacy returns with a new partner and new content! The Youth and Media team at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society is delighted to announce that the Data & Society Research Institute will be partnering with us going forward to bring you Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy, a bi-weekly newsletter on student privacy developments, with an additional new focus on the equity and digital literacy dimensions of today's learning ecosystems. If you have suggestions or reflections, please send them our way-- thanks for reading!
Student Data Privacy: Highlights of the First Quarter of 2016
Every Student Succeeds Act
President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015, reauthorizing the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) intended to replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The ESSA is intended to ensure student success for students and schools, containing provisions for protecting disadvantaged and high need students, including academic standards and assessment requirements, and supporting development of evidence-based educational intervention. The National Center for Mental Health in Schools in the Department of Psychology at UCLA released a policy brief in February analyzing how well the policy addresses barriers to learning and re-engaging disconnected students, and presents frameworks for improving how schools provide student and learning supports. The Center reports that the act clearly identifies the barriers to learning that need to be addressed but addresses them in a piecemeal fashion that “conveys a fragmented picture and lack of coherence with respect to essential student and learning supports.”
How to handle testing opt-outs is an area that remains unclear under ESSA. The act requires states to report the percentage of students participating in mandatory state exams and that the states need to provide a clear explanation of how the State will factor the participation rate into the accountability system. The lack of specificity leaves it up to states to determine how to factor opt-out rates into the accountability system and what actions to take to address high opt-out rates.
The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on the implementation of ESSA with education leaders from across the country in late February. Senator Patty Murray stated that the law rolls back government involvement and reduces the “burdensome” requirements of NCLB but provides appropriate guidelines for state accountability. School districts and educators requested that clarity be provided about vague aspects of the law (i.e., accountability, & assessment).
Data Analysis Highlights National Inequalities
Two recent reports in the New York Times demonstrate the potential for data to highlight and challenge inequality. A recent analysis of national reading and math test score data shows that socioeconomic status is associated with academic performance and that some of the largest achievement gaps exist in the wealthiest districts. The data analysis is described as raising ‘puzzling questions’ about the causes of disparity and the persistence of achievement gaps in well-resourced districts.
When Broward County School District in Florida shifted from parent and teacher referrals in 2005 to a non-verbal IQ test as a screening tool, the number of Black, Hispanic, female, and economically disadvantaged students identified as gifted significantly tripled. However, economists David Card and Laura Giuliano report that budget cuts resulted in the district discontinuing the use of non-verbal IQ scores in 2007 and by 2011 the proportion of minority students in gifted programs returned to previous rates.
Also in the news this month are observations that data is not neutral, and can be used to perpetuate or challenge biases. In New York City, the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) has long been used as the sole criteria for a majority of elite high schools. Legislators are seeking to promote diversity and change the admissions process after reports show that Black and Latino students make up only 7.5% of the student body at one elite school and less than 4% at another.