LDOE Data Sharing Agreements that Put inBloom’s Agreement to Shame

 

In the last Legislative Session of 2014 two types of data protection and privacy laws were being sponsored.  I testified against one of them submitted by Senator Appel that tried to do double duty, but which was overly complex and was straight from an ALEC template.  The two bills that passed that became Acts were 837 submitted by Schroeder, which restricted the ways in which data could be used, collected and distributed (theoretically) and what I would call an equally important bill, Act 677 submitted by Ivy, that required the department to finally document all the places and reasons they do submit data to external entities and vendors. 

Without act 677 we are dependent on rumors (which may be untrue or incomplete), whistleblowers (which once they’ve blown they are expelled and our oversight ability takes a hit), and blind luck.  Freedom of Information requests are routinely ignored, answered months late, require lawsuits that drag on for years, and often contain very little of the information you have requested  – once John White’s executive LDOE staffers pare out the sensitive or useful information.

Act 677 has corroborated a lot of the stories I have been receiving over the years and jogged some memories of what I had overheard we were doing. 

http://www.louisianabelieves.com/resources/library/data-center/data-sharing-agreements

I haven’t seen any coverage of this resource yet, (theoretically it should have been available as of January) but I think this post will get the ball rolling.

You can see the department’s timeline and summary of privacy issues here:

http://www.louisianabelieves.com/resources/library/data-center/protecting-student-privacy

There are 23 agreements and instances of student level data being routinely distributed to external vendors, including names and SSNs, listed.  I have not had a chance to review them all, but I believe it is important we do so before the legislative session is over. 

File
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eScholar – February 2015
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ACE – December 2014
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ACT – February 2015
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Agilix – May 2013
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Arete – December 2014
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Brookes Pub – December 2014
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CAI – December 2014
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DRC – December 2014
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Harland Clarke – March 2015
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iSTEEP – December 2014
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JAG – December 2014
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LOSFA-GEAR UP – December 2014
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LOSFA:STS – December 2014
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Louisiana Board of Regents – February 2015
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Louisiana Office of State Inspector General (OIG)
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MERIL – December 2014
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MMCS:CATE – December 2014
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MMCS:Acc – December 2014
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PacMet – December 2014
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Red-eSetGrowDSC – December 2014
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TeachingStrategies – December 2014
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University of Arkansas – December 2014
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University of Oregon-DIBELS – December 2014
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I will compare this list to my notes to see if I can identify any that might be missing.  However this is quite a bit of disturbing information.  Let me know what you think, and don’t forget to let your legislators know your thoughts as well. 

My thanks to Representative Barry Ivy for helping to shed a little more light on the darkness that inhabits LDOE.

Use this link to identify your legislators and obtain their contact information.

https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/FindMyLegislators.aspx

This is the only information you will need to identify your legislators.

 

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8 thoughts on “LDOE Data Sharing Agreements that Put inBloom’s Agreement to Shame

  1. So what the Hell was the purpose of the Schroder law anyway-to just shut the parents up???? It looks like it accomplished nothing. For just one example-why does the LDOE need a contractor harland Clarke to survey SPED parents? Their staff couldn’t possibly do something so complex.

    1. That appears to be what happened. There are more arrangements than these, but even these appear to be too much. I am afraid to publish anything now because the law might zing me though. So it allows vendors to sell, trade, and use data privately, but prohibits me from producing any public reports that might conceivably reveal data about a student that close aquaintences might piece together by process of elimination.

  2. Fed Up – The Schroder law, like all laws, is only effective if policed. That’s what CrazyCrawfish and hundreds of other student privacy activists across the we country are doing now. JW is living on borrowed time.

    1. True-I shouldn’t be surprised. In this state especially in education it’s so arbitrary what gets enforced and what gets ignored. Even so this strikes me as a huge deal.

  3. I’m in higher ed admissions and am an end user of STS as covered under the Board of Regents agreement. The Schroder legislation may have “shut up” parents but it also made STS useless for admissions purposes. STS was problematic before because LDOE doesn’t know the difference between clean and bad data, but now more records than not aren’t even being updated.

    Now moving away from SSNs as ID numbers was absolutely necessary and I was wondering how long it would be before someone got sued or the state finally entered the 21st century. But word on the street is that LDOE has not kept up with the opt in forms. That might be part of the reason why there was a bill this year modifying the opt in requirement to where parents wouldn’t have to opt in every year. There are many schools that I know collected opt in forms from parents and sent them in to LDOE whose STS transcripts are not updated. I’m also unsure if some big districts (including St. Tammany?) ever distributed opt in forms–while my school doesn’t get a lot of St. Tammany kids I know some St. Tammany parents and they say they never got the forms. (I did get one for my high schooler–at a nondenominational private–and turned it in immediately because I know the implications for admissions and TOPS.)

    Also, I don’t see that LDOE has let up in selling/releasing data (based on the contracts) which was the whole reason for the legislation to begin with.

    Note that we only receive STS data from students who have applied for admission and who have signed on their application form an agreement allowing us to access their transcripts. We on the higher ed side are very cognizant of FERPA. In fact, getting transcript information from STS is a lot better than the days when feeder high schools would just hand us all their paper transcripts once students graduated whether students applied or not (yes, that has happened, and not because we requested them all because we don’t).

    Why is STS helpful (even as buggy as it is)? Well, especially among high poverty, first generation students and families, it has helped our application completion rate immensely. Students don’t realize that once they apply for admission that we don’t “automatically” get ACT scores and transcripts. We call, we email, we badger students to send them in but the lower income your student base the worse the application completion rate is. I also knew that the way the parental “opt in” was structured that students in less stable families would be greatly affected. So “breaking STS” as I call it will have a disproportionate impact on the students who need higher education the most but also have a ton of barriers.

    So we’re back to the days of paper transcripts. It’s not the end of the world, but it does make things a lot more difficult for many students and families, and it slows admissions down too. And I shudder to think what the impact is going to be on TOPS this year.

    But LDOE brought this on themselves with the irresponsible way they handled data in the first place, and from its refusal to move away from using SSNs as ID numbers on its own without legislation. Unfortunately, the ones who will get hurt the most are the ones who always get hurt the most. Low income, minority students.

    1. True. This is also just the agreements they revealed willingly. The real irony is, they are abusing the data sharing law and the revealing of data sharing agreements law. Trying to figure out how to reveal the specifics without identifying the sources. Their are really some horrible, soulless people there and fewer and fewer of our people to keep an eye on them.

      1. And many of these contracts are problematic. Why for example is the University of Arkansas getting all that data WITH SSNs to assess Course Choice (now called Supplemental Course Academy) and the voucher program? It seems they wouldn’t need student identifiers at all or could assign them random IDs for research purposes… also, LDOE won’t be allowed to provide other data starting next year when the legislation goes into full effect including names, DOB, etc. So they break STS and ability for Regents governed institutions to use that data in a responsible, true need to know fashion to cover up their other irresponsible releases of data and make it look like they are following the law? Not to mention what this is going to do to TOPS. Next year we will not be able to retrieve any information unless we have the student’s new ID number and not be able to use other student level data to do so like DOB, name, site code, etc. Again, the students most harmed will be low income and first generation students. Wonder if others will have access to data that we won’t. We in Louisiana higher ed haven’t been the problem, BTW.

        1. I know. It’s backwards. They did not include me in negotiations. I.was concerned this would be the outcome. John White was never about helping students, just exploting them. Maybe he will be forced out in these next elections but that would require elected officials that actually care about our state. what are the chances of that happening?

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