Judge sides with state over data sharing program

Due to concerns about privacy and security, education officials in New York are stalling their plans for a statewide student database. The program, EngageNY Portal, will be delayed until the start of next school year. According to the Associated Press, the state was planning on transferring students grades, test scores and attendance records to InBloom,  an Atlanta-based service provider, as soon as this year. InBloom is a nonprofit organization funded by the Gates Foundation. Opponents, including parents and teachers, have expressed concerns about the personal student data that would be stored “on servers in the so-called cloud, accessed through the Internet” and say it could be susceptible to hacking.

The idea of the portal is to make it easier to track student progress and identify at-risk students. It’s to be funded initially with federal Race to the Top money.

Twelve New York City parents had sued the state saying the state’s participation in the data-sharing program was not legal. Supreme Court Justice Thomas Breslin voted in favor of the state education department, saying that the state is within its legal rights, and does have the power to transfer student data to a third party for the statewide database.

The Education Department and Board of Regents “have met their burden to show that there was a reasonable basis for the decision to enter into the agreement with inBloom and that the disclosure and transfer of data will be for a legitimate purpose,” Breslin wrote.

Jon Campbell, reporter for D&C, said that the group StudentsFirst NY was happy with the decision. The New York City based group is headed by supporters of national education reform, and have been supporters of the database and in New York’s participation in the Common Core. Jenny Sedlis, the group’s executive director, said in a statement that,

“Judge Breslin’s decision should establish once and for all that Commissioner King is properly safeguarding student data and the portal will be able to proceed as planned so that parents, educators, and administrators can have access to crucial information about student performance,”