Student Data Project Moves Ahead in N.Y.

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, December 15, 2011

New York is moving forward with a plan to build a database to track the academic lives of students statewide, restarting a process halted by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli over privacy concerns.

The database, approved Tuesday by the state Board of Regents, is part of a larger system that will connect several states and allow educators to share curriculum materials, applications and student data from transcripts to individual test answers.

The project stalled this summer when Mr. DiNapoli, citing concerns about the privacy of student data, canceled the state's $27 million contract with Wireless Generation, a News Corp. subsidiary. The move came at the height of a phone-hacking scandal involving editors and reporters at several of the parent company's British newspapers. News Corp. also owns The Wall Street Journal.

Wireless Generation already is building software that will be used by at least nine states as part of a $44 million project called the Shared Learning Collaborative, which is funded by the Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York. States will get free access to the open-source software to use as the foundation for their own systems, which they will start using as early as next year.

New York, which plans to participate in the project, had hired Wireless Generation to build on the framework. Mr. DiNapoli killed that contract in August, which officials said set back New York's participation by a year.

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