For a while now, some anti-Big Government privacy activists have argued that the Common Core learning standards are actually just a front for data collection. But when it comes to student data, Big Brother is the private sector. The private sector is mining student data, from ethnicity to number of tardies. There are companies that offer free services like letting teachers log attendance, helping schools start computer science classes, and helping track students' health in physical education classes. The only cost is the kids' information.
Educational data mining has a long history (here's a report on data mining trends from 1995 to 2005), and companies argue that their products help students by providing targeted assistance, among other things, Politico's Stephanie Simon reports on Thursday. A program that can predict when a student will struggle with a concept and then sends lessons to that student isn't necessarily a bad thing, but parents and some teachers worry that companies that give away their services might be tempted to sell their data to the highest bidder. The nightmare scenarios Simon suggests range from student profiles sold to colleges to math records sold to predatory lenders.