Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today called on the state Education Department to suspend plans to create a controversial website that will post personal student data.
The letter to state Education Commissioner John King penned by Silver and signed by 50 Assembly Democrats is the latest pressure put on the education department to delay implementation of a student data portal being developed by inBloom Inc., an Atlanta-based company, Gannett’s Ashley Hupfl reports.
“It is our job to protect New York’s children. In this case, that means protecting their personally identifiable information from falling into the wrongs hands,” Silver said in a statement. “Until we are confident that this information can remain protected, the plan to share student data with inBloom must be put on hold.”
InBloom Inc. was chosen by the state Department of Education to create the EngageNY portal that would allow educators, administrators, parents, and students to access data about individual students such as demographics, parental contacts, out-of-school suspension records, grades and state assessment scores.
The website is linked to Race to the Top federal funding – a $4.35 billion federal education grant program. At least 28 school districts in the lower Hudson Valley have forfeited federal money and opted out of the EngageNY program.
King has defended the portal, saying it will be a valuable resource for educators, parents and students. He said the website would be secure and could only be accessed by individual students and their parents.
“It’s not just about data,” King testified at an Assembly hearing last month. “It is also about ensuring that educators and parents have access to curriculum materials, materials that will shape instruction and the student learning experience.”
At the hearing, Assembly members raised concerns about privacy with the EngageNY Portal.
“After receiving moving and credible testimony at a recent hearing, the Assembly Majority has serious concerns about the potential flaws of the SED’s plan to share student data and their ability to protect student privacy,” Assembly Education Committee chairwoman Cathy Nolan, D-Queens, said in a statement today.