Thursday, December 05, 2013


by Tom Chorneau | SI&A Cabinet Report :: The Essential Resource for Superintendents and the Cabinet |

December 5, 2013  ::  (D.C.) Amid growing concerns over the security of student data as states and school districts  transition to common national curriculum standards, one of the country’s leading conservative advocacy groups has proposed legislation that would limit access to educational data to parents and authorized district employees.

The Student Achievement Backpack Act is just one of a number of proposed laws being debated this week by attendees of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual policy summit. The council, founded more than 30 years ago, brings together lawmakers from across the country to debate and hold mock legislative proceedings on any number of proposals that might later be brought back to an individual state house for formal consideration.

Included on the agenda this week is a model school choice bill based on the system used in Arizona where parents whose children attend a failing school gain control over 90 percent of their share of state education money.

The Student Achievement Backpack Act calls on a state’s education agency to establish a cloud-based data system that would be accessible only to a student’s parent or guardian and each local educational agency that provides instruction to the student. The proposed bill is silent on access by third parties, including academic researchers and federal officials.

The proposal comes forward as officials in several states – including Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Michigan – have either taken action or have threatened to restrict access to student data largely tied to the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, which is viewed in some states as an unwelcomed federal intrusion into the classroom.

Most recently a member of the New Jersey General Assembly proposed a bill that would allow parents or guardians to remove their child’s education records from a data collection shared with the federal government or third-party entities.

Student privacy issues are also complicating efforts by the state of New York to complete an education data portal funded by a $700 million federal Race to the Top grant.

Parents as well as some members of school boards in Dutchess County have called for local districts to withdraw from the proposed data portal because of concerns over student data collection.

The proposed ALEC bill envisions a system where parents and teachers would have complete access to a student’s learner profile that would include demographic information, grades, course history and standardized test scores. Eventually, the system would include details about teacher qualifications, student writing samples and a student’s reading level at the end of the third grade.

The bill would specifically limit student data access to parents or an “authorized LEA user,” defined as being “a teacher or other person who is: (1) employed by an LEA that provides instruction to a student; and (2) authorized to access data in a Student Achievement Backpack.”

ALEC, which calls itself the nation’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators, pursues changes in public policy aimed at limiting government, promoting free markets and federalism, according to its website.

Among its model policies is a prohibition on state legislatures voting on a budget bill or other appropriations until 72 hours after the bill’s public introduction; a resolution calling for a balanced federal budget; and a measure that would align pay and benefits of public employees with their private sector counterparts.

The group’s national board is led by GOP state lawmakers John Piscopo from Connecticut; Linda Upmeyer from Iowa; and Phil King from Texas.


2cents small  OK, sometimes the Right v. Left/Red v. Blue battle lines blur.

ALEC is usually  painted as NeoCon knee-jerk  School ®eform, Inc.  tea partiers - but they are right (as in correct) on this one.  They are right on the prohibition on state legislatures voting on a budget bill or other appropriations until 72 hours after the bill’s public introduction too!

Go figure.

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