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K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents

A educational technology conference this week in Austin, Texas, will Clang with bells and whistles that start with impatience show their latest pro...


K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents

educational technology conference this week in Austin, Texas, will Clang with bells and whistles that start with impatience show their latest products.

But the most influential new product less flashy:. a database built $ 100 million in the course of the students in public schools from kindergarten through high school

In just three months of operation, the database contains all trace files of millions of children identified by their name, address and social security number, sometimes. Learning disabilities are documented test results recorded presence noted. In some cases, the database follows the free time of students, career, attitude toward school -. Even homework completion

local education officials retain legal control of the information for their students. But federal law allows them to share files in their part of the database of private companies offering products and educational services to sell.


can not wait.

“This will be a big win for us,” said Jeffrey Olen, Product Manager at Compass Learning, which sells educational software.

Compass Learning

will join two dozen companies technology conference this week in SXSWedu show how they can use the database to create customized products to make -. educational games for students, lesson plans for teachers, activity reports of the Directors School

The database is a joint project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which most of the financing of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the school officials from different countries. Strengthening Education, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., the infrastructure built over the past 18 months. When he had finished, the Gates Foundation is the database to a new nonprofit Inbloom Inc., which will launch.

States and school districts can choose whether they want to share their student records in the system, the service is free for now, though officials say they will Inbloom probably start to charge in 2015 to seven states -. Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Massachusetts – have committed to enter data selected school districts Louisiana. and New York, the statewide get almost all the records of the students.

“We look at personalized learning as the next hop big step forward in education,” said Brandon Williams, director of the Illinois State Board of Education.

SI data leaks, what remedies

federal officials say the project database complies with the Privacy Laws. schools do not have permission from the parents of students to share files with a “school official” with a “legitimate educational interest”, said the Ministry of Education. Department defines “school official,” the private companies involved in the school, to the extent that data only for the purposes stated in the contract.

The database also allows school administrators full control of student records, so they can choose the test results to share with a supplier, but denied social security numbers or folders disability.

This is very reassuring for many parents.

“Once this information is there, it will be abused. There is no doubt in my mind,” said Jason France, a father of two children in Louisiana.

While obligations

Inbloom tightly around the data, its own privacy policy states that he “can not the security of the stored information to ensure keep … or that the information will not be intercepted when it airs.”


New York and Louisiana state officials wrote in protest. example, Massachusetts chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and Parent-Teacher Association. If student records flea hacked or abused, “What are the remedies for parents?” asked Norman Siegel, a civil liberties lawyer in New York who has worked with the protesters. “It’s very disturbing.”



meet project files are safer in the database that school districts spread. Moreover, they say, the upside potential is huge, with the power to transform classrooms in the United States

Is Johnny

have trouble converting decimal fractions Database recorded – and perhaps boring as textbooks, animation and adore playing baseball after school personalized learning software can use this information to serve a lesson. mathematics to perhaps measure a set of animation that uses baseball statistics to teach decimals.


teacher can see the development of a “dashboard” that clear images used to map the progress of each student dozens, even hundreds, of different skills.

“You can begin to see what works for each individual student,” said Adria Moersen, a professor at the Colorado High School has tested a number of new products.

The sector is undeniably hot, tech startups to K-12 schools has more than $ 425 million in venture capital last year by NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the sector. Investment Advisors company GSV followed 84 offers in the past year, compared with 15 in 2007.

most of its $ 100 million in the database, the Gates Foundation pledged $ 70 million in grants to schools and companies to develop personalized learning tools.

New products are regularly

on the market, but educators and entrepreneurs say slow adoption due to technical problems.

warning systems to



tend to store various student information bits in different databases, often with different operating systems. Therefore it is difficult to learn new applications into the classroom.

chain Rocketship charter schools, for example, administrators must manually at least five databases to update their educational software works well when a child transfers from one teacher to another, said Charlie Bufalino a framework Rocketship.

to add extra steps cost, the number of applications that a school can buy limited. And because the data is very fragmented, private companies are not always a true picture of each student’s academic performance, and even less of their personal characteristics

new database aims to clear the obstacles in integrating all the information about students – . including data that may have been stored in paper files or notebooks teachers -. within a flexible platform

business technology education can use the same platform for their software to develop programs that will connect to a wealth of information about students, as a district or state permits access.

This perspective has a number of companies big dreams.

Larry Berger, a leader amplifier education, says that the data can be used to develop “early warning systems.” Maybe things will turn out, eg early school leavers highest began to throb with mathematics at the age of 8. If this is the case, all future 8 year olds fitting this model could be identified and given extra help.

Companies with

Access to the database will also be able to identify and their teachers fighting concepts that students have not mastered to locate a startup that could benefit:. Bloom Board that professional development schools plan tailored to each teacher sells


new database “is a godsend for us,” said Jason Long, CEO Bloom Board. “This allows us to collect more data faster, faster and cheaper.”


While bullish on the sector, Michael Moe, chief investment officer at GSV Capital, warns that there is still no evidence of the new technology will produce “game-changing results” for students – or, indeed, sterling profits for investors.

Others are skeptical


“The hype in the technical press is that education is a technical problem that can be solved by technology,” said Frank Catalano intrinsic strategy, a consultancy focused on education and technology. “In my opinion, this is a very naive and destructive.”