Special Reports Archive
- Written by Gordon Cook
- Category: Special Reports Archive
- Published: 03 July 2008
- Hits: 16284
This is the first chapter of our Washington State report. In the absence of public awareness, lifelong electronic dossiers become likely.
Privacy Invasion Begins in KindergartenBeginning with A Nation at Risk in 1983 and continuing into the follow-on "Goals 2000" effort, a national alliance of politicians and corporate-sponsored entities have to work together in education restructuring applications. In the views of some, Washington State has become a laboratory for their early efforts (see chart p. 19 below). With undoubtedly the best of intentions, a combination of businessmen, technology advocates and educational bureaucrats have put together a national agenda that has our public schools becoming a focal point for the delivery of social, as well as educational, services to children. The changes they wish to introduce depend on the application of computers to student records as never before.
The national planners have decided to apply the methodology of Total Quality Management (TQM) to the educational process in the hope of creating graduates with the teamwork skills that are believed to be needed as characteristics of productive workers for the next century. The application of TQM, however, demands the collection of vast amounts of data to be applied to studying and "fixing" the educational process. Databases of student records are seen as the only cost-effective means of applying the necessary changes. But, once a database exists, other planners see it as a tool that can, with the addition of still more data, be capable of producing electronic portfolios that will aid employers in selecting graduates. The same planners assure us that employers will not receive the totality of the data but onlt what is "appropriate."
Brick by innocent brick, the edifice of life-long electronic student dossiers is being constructed without any recognition by the general public of what is being done. Privacy issues are debated politely from the sidelines, while the technology juggernaught moves inexorably forward as children entering kindergarten are asked for their Social Security numbers. Some of the key players and events that have created the Washington State environment are examined in "Putting the Puzzle Together: Education Restructuring in Washington State" by Lynn M. Stuter and Roxanne Sitler. The authors point out that the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) in Rochester New York (Marc Tucker, President) is a think tank closely allied with the New American Schools Development Corporation. NCEE helped write Goals 2000. In 1989 it formed the National Alliance for Restructuring Education (NARE), which was comprised of four states, including Washington State, and five large urban school districts.
HB 1209: Washington State Pilots the National Education AgendaIn one of its publications NARE states: "The Alliance consulted on the drafting of the Washington State's 1993 reform law [ESHB 1209] which calls for developing a Certificate of Mastery and lays out a design for helping students achieve it that mirrors the Alliance design." The design incorporates the following five steps - ones which typify the objectives of the alliance of "reformers." Unfortunately these objectives have unintended consequences that are raising the concern of privacy activists:
"1. Standards and Assessments: Defining what outcomes are wanted and creating good measures of progress toward those outcomes.
2. Learning Environment: Connecting resources they [students] need to the curriculum and instructional resources [students] need to perform to high standards.
3. Community Services and Support: Improving the planning, financing and delivery of health and human services to more effectively support student learning.
4: High performance management: Adapting for education the principles of the total quality movement as they have evolved in the best American firms.
5: Public Engagement: Identifying those strategies that will foster sustained public support for world class student performance standards and the revolutionary changes in policy and practice needed to meet them."
HB1209, Section 202 Subsection 3 also lays out criteria calling for state intervention into any local school district where "significant numbers of students persistently fail to learn. . ." Stuter and Sitler are concerned that the national education reform agenda will mean the end of local control of our schools.
Bureaucrats recognize that our school system is broken. No doubt with the best of intentions, they have worked hard to prepare a "fix." Unfortunately, the fix is fraught with privacy problems for students and parents. It will also heighten the current tendency to use the K-12 school system as a means of social control where detailed electronic student records will penalize students whose development falls outside of prejudged norms.
Why? The nub of the answer is found in point four above. The application of Total Quality Management to a process entails the assumption that if you have a framework for organizing information, and then go out and gather enough information about a process and make a rational application of what you have found that nearly any product can be "fixed." One possible error in this thinking is that, while it may be used to help manufacturers create better chocolate chip cookies, it may be somewhat more difficult to apply to our children who have minds and spirits of their own.
Whatever the case, the process of application of TQM by schools demands massive data collection about each of its human products. Point three above brings local health and social service agencies into the mix and ensures collection of material about the students home life and community. All of this is being done without serious debate on how to ensure the privacy of individual student and parent information as the school system begins to create what could easily become permanent electronic dossiers on the life trajectories of our school children.
The Coming Statewide Student DatabaseA statewide database on indivdual students was never required by law, but the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction decided to hire a consultant in 1994 to help design one. The state request for proposal cited "the current movement toward new educational techniques such as outcome-based assessment" as a driving force behind its creation. The contract was awarded to CTMG (Canadian Technology Marketing Group), and the company delivered its report on Febuary 22, 1995.
The CTMG study deals extensively with privacy issues, including options for aggregating data in such a way that individual student data cannot be publicly identified. However, it admits that for the protection of privacy, no single identifier for student records is ideal - including the use of Social Security Numbers. After pointing out that the use of no student identifier would be the least controversial approach, the report adds (p. 55) that multi-year longitudinal studies would be difficult if student identifiers were not used. But one wonders whether lack of a statewide student identifier would really make all studies difficult? It might make statewide studies undoable because a "John Smith" in one town could not be distinguished from a "John Smith" in another. With a state identifier, it also becomes easier to conduct such large-scale studies, whether or not you have the express, informed, revocable consent of students and their parents.
The fact that the CTMG study dismisses the "no identifier" option in less than half a page and goes on for eight pages about alternatives, makes it clear that those who conjured up the report have clear ideas about the need to be able to use the data obtained for TQM tracking and management of the student population. More than two of the eight pages is devoted to discussion of Social Security Numbers. Since no other option gets more than a page, it is apparent that the use of SSN is seen as the logical way to proceed - despite the following caution: "As SSNs become increasingly used as unique identifiers by both public and private agencies, there is the potential for developing a database that contains massive amounts of information making individuals subject to computerized matches and searches without their awareness or consent to such inquiries."
The study also gives short treatment to the possibility of using encrypted social security numbers listing as a disadvantage that: "Encrypted SSNs, will not allow the system to interface with other systems using unique identifiers. Therefore it will not be useful across agencies, matched with other states' systems, federal databases, or post secondary institutions." (p.58) Cross- agency data matching on individuals seems to be accepted as a normal goal that is not to be questioned.
According to our conversations with policy experts in Washington State, the use of SSN numbers in other Washington State agencies is already widespread. The Department of Licensing, Department of Employment Security through the Washington Information Network Kiosks, and Department of Health have all used them for routine citizen informational transactions and database information collection. The CTMG study points out that a "state or local government may require SSN disclosures only to establish the identity of any person affected by a tax law or public assistance law. When an agency requests the disclosure of SSNs the agency must provide written notice to the individual as to (1) whether the disclosure is mandatory, (2) the authority under which it is asking for the SSNs, and (3) the uses for which the SSNs are being requested." (p. 47) Agencies in Washington State have been known to violate these legal requirements.
Because these numerous database tools are powerful and the people putting them together know it, there seems to be a tendency to want to expand their scale and scope. For example, the CTMG report (p. 72) goes on to say that the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) data dictionary "should not be limited to student information. . . . . Eventually the database will contain links to staff, program and financial information." It then talks of five different levels of data security for student information ranging from (1) public, to (2) public but withheld at individual request, to (3) information available to those with a need to know - family socio-economic status, (4) information with restricted access within OSPI - family income and health information, to (5) information restricted to the person or office collecting it - for example drug use information or counseling files.
An Endemic Action: Avoid Dealing With the Policy and Privacy QuestionsA familiar theme that echoed through our interviews was the failure of policy makers to look at the statewide context and have candid public discussions on whether there should be limits to growth and acquisition of personal data . The report showing OSPI how to establish a statewide student database system exemplifies the problem of not looking at the larger issues when it says: "many districts and other agencies outside the agency have the impression that OSPI collects a large amount of information that is never used. . . . . OSPI should look for ways to increase the use of the data being collected. This could be facilitated through making the central database available to districts, universities and others who have an interest in analyzing the data." (p. 72) The report has nothing further to say on the policy/privacy implications of what it has just recommended.
Instead, it warns that "in order for OSPI to continue on its path of standardization, it is imperative that nationally recognized standards be used in the creation of the student record database." Therefore PeriodicityTM (the name of the data dictionary used by OSPI) was "preloaded for OSPI using the following standard sources of data elements: (1) Student Data Handbook for Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, NCES 94-303 (SDH) and (2) A Guide to the Implementation of SPEEDE/ExPRESS Electronic Transcript, ANSI version 003021ED0010 (S/E)." SPEEDE/ExPRESS is a prototype national system for electronic transcript transfer between states. It is being field tested within Washington State after being partially developed by Jill Hanson at the Washington Schools Information Processing Cooperative (WSIPC).
SPEEDE/ExPRESS is a national system for sending electronic student records from school to school, or to an agency, corporation, or other recipient. Such a "transcript" can include more than grades and test scores. Depending on where it's being sent, it may also include such things as medical and dental records, mental health and social services received, employment, and education level of parent or guardian. Contact information is also provided, in case the recipient wants to know more. The record may be keyed to any of eight different student identification numbers -- for example student's SSN, corrected Social Security number, and prior incorrect Social Security number, local student identification number, family unit number, migrant number, and agency student number.
When the proponents of SPEEDE/ExPRESS are asked about their mission, they will usually say that all they are trying to do is send transcripts more quickly across the country. Why? So that when Joe or Sally move from Washington to Florida their transcript data will be there before they arrive. Critics say that the origin for a lot of this cross-state tracking at the individual level was the National Education Goal that called for reducing the drop out rate. Some say the bureaucrats who wanted this then realized that they weren't even sure what the drop out rate was because students moved from one school to another or from one state to another. Therefore, if they tracked all students around the country, they could find out what the ultimate drop out rate is.
The federal Student Data Handbook mentioned above lists over 500 fields or separate pieces of information that a student database is thought fit to contain. However the book's compilers execute a very careful disclaimer on page 17 saying that there is no federal mandate to collect the data contained in the handbook, adding that it is nothing more than a data dictionary defining how data should be standardized if collected. We learn that "the terms included in this handbook are indicative of the types of information that could be collected about individual students and maintained in permanent or temporary student records. The definitions reflect a consensus from the field about best practice definitions as well as current federal reporting requirements (p. ix)."
Contained as "best practice" collection items in the data dictionary are:
(1) 25 kinds of religious affiliation, (2) the phone number of a student's email provider, (3) 12 different kinds of housing units (4) quantification of family income in ten thousand dollar increments through $100,000 a year, (5) nine different descriptions of employment status for parent or guardian (6) 23 different possible reasons for exit from the school system (7) 10 different classifications of the student's post-school work experience, (8) 5 different questions about employment permits, (9) whether the student has registered to vote (10) eight questions about the student's oral health, ranging from number of teeth, to number of teeth decayed or restored, and four different descriptions of oral tissue condition of the student's mouth, (11) the student's gestational age and weight at birth, (12) instances when the student is known to have used licit or illicit drugs, including alcohol, in a manner such that it interfered with the student's psychological, social or academic functioning (13) nineteen different types of disciplinary actions taken by 13 potential disciplinary authorities.
The Handbook lists three reasons for collecting as much as 500 different pieces of data about students. "(1) the data is important to and needed by many teachers, schools or school districts . . . (3) the data is needed for reporting information about students to other schools, to school districts or other administrative units, to state education agencies or to the federal government." And then there is the final inane reason: (2) 'The data element can be accurately collected and maintained with an effort that is justifiable in terms of the value of the information." With no definition of value this is like saying collect anything else you wish.
Other state and federal instruments in use have students giving detailed personal information about parents and home life, all to be entered in the "appropriate" databases.
Figure One: Education Reform on the previous page shows the broad national scope of the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services in producing the "worker of the 21st century." It and Figure Two Educational Reform Organization Chart on page 19 below are by Lynn M. Stuter and Roxanne Sitler and used with permission.
Looking for a citizens' perspective on these issues, we spoke with Janeane Dubuar, a member of the Seattle chapter of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. Dubuar confirmed that the federal Privacy Act requires any agency requesting the Social Security Number to provide individuals with a three-part notification, but she says this requirement has been widely violated by schools. Parents still report being told that the SSN is required to register their children for school, or for students to take standardized tests. Although state legislation requiring school districts to request each student's SSN failed in 1993, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction has since issued a memo requesting help from all districts in obtaining the number.
Dubuar outlined for us her concerns about the budgeting of money in May of this year which potentially could be used statewide student database. "The legislature has not been fully informed about what it could be funding. It has not received even basic information-- what data will be collected, who will decide, how it will be transferred and stored, or who will have access. Few people, including legislators, have seen Canadian Technology Marketing Group's February 1995 Statewide Student Database report, which relates to this budget item."
"This contractor's report to the Superintendent of Public Instruction calls for a database containing personally identifiable data on all students, to be integrated eventually with staff, program, and financial data. Specific recommendations or subproposals include: collecting information on individual students' post-high school careers and families; linking driving records to student records; sharing individual student information with other agencies, using the Social Security Number to match data; automatic electronic transfer of individual records from districts to the state; data collection starts with basic information and increases over time; all data collected should be stored indefinitely."
"If the Legislature agrees to fund this item without clear restrictions, it could appear that the Legislature endorses the contractor's plan. Once the state begins widely collecting individual data, it will be hard to know where to stop. Federal funds are not contingent on supplying personal student and family data, according to 20 USC 1232i. Polls show that Americans are increasingly concerned about individual privacy. Community trust helps creates successful schools. A statewide student database raises important privacy issues which could easily diminish that trust. The Legislature is entitled to a detailed analysis of the planned database including financial aspects, effects on individual privacy, and statutory justification for the project, before it goes forward." Janeane concluded: CPSR/Seattle believes that schools and other agencies should minimize the collection, distribution and retention of personal data. Students and/or their parents should decide who has access to detailed personal information.
Electronic and Paper Records Demand Different TreatmentMike Huffman, the student records administrator in Indiana cited in Appendix One (p. 76 of full study below) wanted to know why we were so worried about student record keeping. Schools have always kept large amounts of paper records, he pointed out. We believe he misses a major point. The difference between paper and electronic records from the point of view of the ease of invasion of personal privacy is rarely considered by policy makers. As Jane Nelson of the Office of the Administrator for the Courts has pointed out in a brilliant paper included here as Appendix Four (p. 78), electronic forms are a much more serious threat to personal privacy than paper.
So where does this leave us? If these kinds of computerized tracking systems become the norm, those who understand and can afford it may want to send their children to private schools, rather than allow them to become grist for the state's and nation's new data mills. Those who understand but cannot afford it could either home school their children or go "off the range." Left in the system would be the inert "cookie dough" of those who do not understand ready to become the compliant service workers of the new century.
Electronic Student Records in Washington State
The Urge to MergeAs our summary has explained in some detail, an information web begins to envelop our children in kindergarten. The child's school record is on its way to becoming a repository of medical, dental, mental health, social service, juvenile justice and other personal data. If federal bureaucrats have their way, this web will soon follow the student into the workplace, as information about post-high school education, military experience and work history is added to each student's permanent school record.
To understand better the changes coming to school records, we interviewed Janeane Dubuar, a member of the Seattle chapter of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. Besides tracking legislation and testifying before state government committees for the group, she chaired a panel on privacy of student records at this year's conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy. She provided us with several hundred pages of documentation relating to student records privacy, both in the state of Washington and at the federal level. During our meeting we reviewed some of them together, informally, and discussed some of the broader issues behind the increase in data collection on students.
We began by talking about the desire of education and social service agencies to link their databases, and how this has played out in the Washington Legislature. Janeane said a series of bills in the past three years has attempted to weaken the confidentiality rules that protect education, social service, and juvenile justice records.
For some time, the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, police, attorneys, courts and others have been allowed to forward confidential student and family information, without obtaining parental consent, if a minor is the subject of a legal investigation or is under legal supervision of the receiving agency. In 1993, schools were added to this list of "juvenile justice and care agencies." The change had little effect at the time because it conflicted with federal student records law.
Then, in 1994, the Legislature and the Governor directed the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Department of Social and Health Services, and the Administrator for the Courts to review state and federal laws and policies on information sharing between agencies, "about children who are the subject of reports of abuse and neglect or who are charged with criminal behavior." The agencies also were directed to recommend any desireable changes to state law. A committee was formed for this purpose.
The committee was required by law to report to the Legislature by December 31, 1994, but apparently did not do so. Instead, it created a draft report which it chose not to release, even as members of the group attempted to change state law according to recommendations in the draft. Other interested parties were left in the dark about the report.
Because the report was not released, the Legislature did not learn that changes in federal law left relatively few legal barriers to prevent these agencies from sharing confidential records among themselves, or that more of those barriers were about to come down. A description of this year's follow-up bill (HB 1401) said it would simply "clarify" the circumstances under which records could be shared when, in reality, it was about to expand the circumstances in which confidential information could be sent from agency to agency without parental consent, even for children not in trouble with the law.
"It looked like it was going to be hard to explain all this to the House and Senate education committees in three minutes," Janeane said. "I began digging and found something in a memo from the Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Social and Health Services ("Confidentiality and Disclosure Issues", November 7, 1994.) Part of it said, 'the broad language of the statute [to be amended by the bill] and cross-references located in other statutes such as [mental health records] suggests that the statute was intended to apply to all juvenile justice or care agency records involving children, even if a particular child is not the subject of a juvenile court proceeding.'
"Wow, I thought. There it is. In the view of people who ought to know, this bill could affect records of not only wrongdoers, but many other children. I was able to go to a second committee hearing and say, you might have thought this bill applied only to convicted offenders and publicly available official juvenile court files, but its effects will be much broader. Please take a another look. At the last minute, most of the bill was eliminated."
"Is the reason they feel they should be able to do this without consent because the state knows best, and they feel that if they have to get consent it will take too long, or people won't give it?" we asked.
"They really haven't been very clear about why these changes are needed. At committee hearings there was an attempt to link the bill to concerns about school safety, even though the bill went far beyond that. One person said it might be difficult to contact certain parents. Even though many school publications are calling for increased parent involvment in education, when it comes to something as meaningful as deciding whether a family's social service history should follow their child in school, parent or guardian involvement is unfortunately seen as a problem."
"But, overall, what motivates these breaches of confidentiality?" we wondered.
"The current focus seems to be on preventing social problems," Janeane said. "Take a look at Together We Can. (Together We Can: A Guide for Crafting a Profamily System of Education and Human Services, published in April 1993 by the US Department of Education and US Department of Health and Human Services.)
Overcoming the Confidentiality Barrier"In this book, the federal government recommends coordinating state policies, regulations and data collection to overcome the confidentiality 'barrier.' Schools and other agencies are urged to create a 'management information system (MIS), a central data bank that stores individual and aggregate data and organizational information.' Such a system can 'allow schools and agencies serving the same families to share information; access information from other agencies and add information potentially useful in designing, implementing, or following up on service or educational plans. . . .; [and] establish on-going records that make it possible to follow a child and family from one agency or community to another . . . ." At the end of a chapter that instructs communities how to develop a strategic plan, the book lists 'Landmines to Avoid.' One 'landmine' is 'deciding that confidentiality issues are too hard to overcome and not finding ways to share information.'
"In another chapter of the book, a group in St. Louis called Wallbridge Caring Communities is cited as a model because, 'the partners in the collaborative sought agreements to allow computer linkups with schools and the social service and criminal justice systems to track school progress, referrals, and criminal activity.'"
"But aren't the school system people really talking about society replacing the parental role?" we wondered.
"Many parents are concerned about that. As a group of computer professionals, though, we've tried to stay out of that particular debate and focus on what we know best - collection, integration, use and potential abuse of large amounts of sensitive personal data. Even if the proponents mean well, is it really a good idea to track the whole population through the school record? Because, that's the direction we're headed."
"What else might go into a school record?" we asked.
"Here's a partial list of what the National Education Goals Panel technical subgroup would like to see collected on every student: 1) month and extent of first prenatal care 2) birthweight 3) name, type, and number of years in a preschool program 4) poverty status 5) physical, emotional and other development at ages 5 and 6 7) date of last routine health and dental care 8) extracurricular activities 9) type and hours per week of community service 10) name of post-secondary institution attended 11) post-secondary degree or credential 12) employment status 13) type of employment and employer name 14) whether registered to vote. [Goal 2 Technical Planning Subgroup On Core Data Elements. National Education Goals Panel, Washington, DC. April 21, 1993.] "Employment information? Employer name? How do you collect that?" we wondered.
"In 1992, the report of the Transitions subgroup to the Governor's Council on Education Reform and Funding suggested it be done through the state Department of Employment Security. That's one possibility. Technically speaking, that would be fairly easy since employers already must report all new employees to the Department."
"Is this part of outcomes-based education?" we asked. Where does this data gathering come from?"
"That's a good question. Different people will give you different answers to that. From sitting in on some of these hearings, I gather that term can be used to descibe either a classroom teaching strategy or an overall approach by a district or state.
"A lot of states have passed state education reform bills. In some states and in some local school districts part of the education goals they have set are social goals. Some groups are afraid that trying to measure the social adjustment of individual students could lead to a form of social control. Whether or not this would actually happen, there have already been privacy problems.
"A few years ago in Kennewick, in eastern Washington, over 4000 kindergarten through fourth graders were rated by their teachers on social behaviors - how often they lie, cheat, sneak, steal, exhibit a negative attitude, act aggressively and whether they are rejected by their peers. All the individual scores, along with student name, were sent to a private psychiatric center which had a contract with the district to screen for "at risk" children who might benefit from the center's programs. This happened for two years before parents found out about it, and it created quite a stir when they did.
"At the national level, even the National Center for Education Statistics admits that in the '70s and '80s, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (a standardized test) gathered data about individual student behaviors and attitudes without informed parental consent. Those data are still retained by the Center in an individually identifiable format - which means the data potentially could be linked with other information to reveal the identity of the student. NCES records have been accessed by a wide variety of researchers. Three things concern us: the types of data being collected, the sheer amount of data being collected and who has access, particularly when it is done without express, fully informed consent."
"Some of this information certainly is intrusive. It's almost like you need to sit these people down and ask them what they are going to do with it," we said.
"Once I did ask one of the authors of the new federal Student Data Handbook how a term like 'attitudinal test' ever wound up in the new book, considering past problems surrounding these tests. The conversation seemed to pause. 'Well,' she said, 'we wanted to be complete.' When I asked when it might be appropriate to collect this kind of data there was another pause, a fairly long one. 'Perhaps in something to do with a student's vocation.'
"This answer has always puzzled me because other terms listed in the book, like 'aptitude test' or 'interest inventory,' would appear to cover that. 'Attitudinal test' is defined in the book as, 'an assessment to measure the mental and emotional set or pattern of likes and dislikes or opinions held by a student or a group of students. This is often used in relation to considerations such as controversial issues or personal adjustments.'"
"You seem to think what is happening with technology is a fallout of the policy changes going on, we said to Janeane. "A somewhat different point of view that we heard this morning, is that the technology planners and bureaucrats in these agencies saw the shift to the Clinton administration as the possibility of a Democratic trough to feed out of for awhile, and all of a sudden became fixated on building up their information infrastructure fiefdoms. Let's build the infrastructure quick while we can get our hands on the money." "Well, perhaps that's another way to look at it," Janeane responded. "But the new attempts at data- gathering in education actually predate this administration. You need to go back to the Bush administration's America 2000 program, or before. The National Education Goals sounded very simple - things like, all children will start school ready to learn; and the high school graduation rate will increase to at least 90 percent. But these simple-sounding goals have somehow become a rationale for massive data collection. In order to decide if all children are ready to learn -- the theory goes-- we now need to know everything about their background. In order to decide exactly what the national graduation rate is and whether students are succeeding after graduation, we want to track every child in America. "Were the National Education Goals the beginning of all this then?" we wondered.
"Do you remember A Nation at Risk?" Janeane responded. "That report galvanized society in general and business in particular to look more closely at our education system. It led to a flurry of state commissions and state education reform bills, eventually to Goals 2000 (the 1994 national education reform bill), and a workforce training bill. There was also HR 6, which - among other things - reauthorized and expanded the duties of the National Center for Education Statistics.
"There have been Department of Education visits to individual state education offices to advise them whether their state and local computer systems will be adequate to deal with the data-gathering resulting from these bills.
Our Children as Cookie Dough on the TQM Assemby Line"Essentially, the Total Quality Management model has been borrowed from business and applied to schools. Part of this philosophy is a zero-defect product, which leads to constant measurement of input and evaluation of output. So, for example, if students were chocolate chip cookies you would want to keep track of what kind of dough you were using, record what happens when you put more eggs in the dough, count the number of chocolate chips in each cookie, and observe what happens if you change the oven temperature. These attempts to find the right "recipe" have lead to an explosion of surveys, tests and the collection of detailed data about students and their families. What researchers and advocates of this approach sometimes overlook, as they work hard to do a good job, is that children aren't cookies, but human beings with rights of their own."
After talking with Janeane, we found ourselves wondering why any rational person would expect that if they could acquire this data as to whether and why students are, or are not, ready to learn that -- given the state of our society -- anyone would be ready or willing to do anything meaningful about it. It takes leadership and we haven't had any such for a long time.
What they do want to put in place of the current system is a neighborhood school which offers not only what is traditionally considered a basic education, but also any necessary social services on site, to help the children be "ready to learn" and followed by internships with business so that each child is ready to enter the workplace after graduation. So, indeed it is a complete restructuring of education. The problem is that the average citizen is unaware of the scope of the changes and the liklihood of less local control of schools. Also these changes are leading to the collection of tremendous amounts of personal data. If they want to educate the "whole" child and also measure their progress they need to evaluate a broad number of factors.