What are schools doing with students’ data?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Your child may be a history buff or a math whiz. He may excel at soccer or poetry. She may be planning for a career as a doctor or a lawyer. Each kid is unique, but there’s one thing all students have in common: They are data-generating machines.

It’s not just their test scores and attendance records getting socked away. Every student in every school district generates hundreds of data points each year — from their race and gender to their economic status, behavioral issues, biometric data, health status, and more. This tsunami of data is then absorbed and stored by school districts, state databases, educational service providers, websites, and app makers.

Of course, schools have been collecting data on students since there have been schools. In the past, though, this information was squirreled away in filing cabinets or just on computers used in district offices. Now it lives in the cloud, and it’s being accessed by non-educators who want to apply the principles of big data analysis to it.

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