Nothing new here. Students have been sharing such information for centuries. All that's different today is the technology students are using to share the information. The old technology involved passing notes; now, it's tweets.
But, what happens when the information students are sharing concerns standardized tests, like the SAT?
It seems the test administrators' best efforts are falling short of the mark. Monitoring classrooms and hallways as well turning off and surrending cellphones during tests may work during the test. But, using social media to send information concerning tests as well as items on tests can't be monitored after the test.
Over the past few years, that's precisely where testing companies have been directing their attention. According to an NPR report, they've been monitoring students' social media accounts looking for test question leaks.
More importantly, a cottage industry has emerged that collects data regarding students' attitudes, activities, habits, and schedules. As it ends up, for a small fee to school districts.
What? Educators are allowing companies to mine data concerning students without informing them or their parents?
Well, that's also nothing new. In this politically correct environment, why host a bake sale to raise funds only to incur the wrath of the Food Police?
But, isn't the failure to provide information about how those data are being used an invasion of a student's right to privacy concerning educational matters? Wasn't the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) designed to protect those kind of data?
Well, it ends up, the answer is "No." While FERPA protects student test scores and basic education records, FERPA was written long before the digital age and doesn't protect data beyond those contained on official education records.
Enter center stage the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 (SSPPRA),an upgraded FERPA that's designed to protect student privacy as well as to keep institutions from selling student data.
Although SDPPRA has yet to be finalized, opponents are already on the warpath claiming that SDPPRA doesn't go far enough. For example, loopholes allow for the continued sale of student data. Moreover, parents don't have the choice to "opt out."
Some form of the bill is likely to pass but, even so, parents should be concerned about how for-profit companies are mining data from their children's social media accounts.
To read the NPR report, click on the following link: