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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Are testing companies really "spying" on students if they monitor social media during testing?

Another day of standardized testing, another controversy.  The latest being around the administration of the PARCC Common Core test in New Jersey.  In this case the controversy is not over the usefulness of testing, or current problems with the online test administration, but rather the monitoring of social media by the testing company, Pearson, to detect test cheaters and other irregularities.  The controversy is detailed in this Washington Post blog, with a superintendent being upset by the perceived big brother monitoring of their students.  Why is this at all disturbing?  Haven’t we always monitored students and schools during high stakes testing?  Test administrators and monitors are rigorously trained, certified, and then required to monitor schools and testing, to ensure a fair testing environment for all students.  As much time and money as states and schools spend on this massive undertaking for arguably little return, is it wrong that Pearson monitors publicly posted social media posts?  If a student, teacher, or administrator chooses to publicly post test questions to social media during a test, then they have made a poor choice, violated testing rules, and must face the fall out.  But there are allegations detailed here that the spying was in fact looking at private student social media posts.  If those were somehow monitored or if action was taken on students’ opinions of the test, then shame on those involved.  But come on, to call monitoring public social media posts “spying” shows a lack of understanding of social media that is for all intents is public information.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Student Data Privacy Worries Grow

The worries and media coverage around the privacy of student data are growing as fast as the amount of funds being funneled into educational technology startups, and for good reason; The amount of apps and programs that are being used with students by teachers and schools are growing faster than ever, and often being implemented with little to no planning and oversight. 

Natasha Singer, of the New York Times, who has investigated the (in)security of educational applications produced by signatories of the Student Privacy Pledge, wrote a new story highlighting the difficulties faced by schools in managing all the apps and related student data. The story features Judson Independent School District amongst others.

At the same time a coalition of groups, including CoSN, the Consortium for School Networking, released 10 principles for protecting and guiding the use of the personal information of America’s students

It's great to see media coverage highlighting the issue that is also willing to recognize that there are many groups involved with trying to help schools with this issue.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What is keeping education CTO's up at night?

During the recent February 2015 TCEA conference in Austin, several CTOs participated in panel about their most pressing issues and worries in their roles as CTOs.

What keeps CTO's up at night?  Check it out at eSchoolNews
The panel, moderated by Kari Murphy, Chief Technology Officer at Deer Park ISD included John Orbaugh, Executive Director of Technology at Tyler ISD, Karla Burkholder, CTO at Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD, Barbara Brown, Chief Technology Officer at Lewisville ISD, and myself, Steve Young, Chief Technology Officer at Judson ISD.  Our dear colleague, Sheryl Abshire, Chief Technology Officer from Calcasieu Parish Schools, was unable to join the group.

eSchoolNews did a short follow up piece and interviewed several panelists for the article.

It is a quick and worthwhile read at: