TN Ed Chief Promises To ‘Zealously’ Protect Common Core Test Data

PARCC stands for "Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers." According to a July 2013 Power Point, the test will be given in at least 20 states that have adopted Common Core standards, including Tennessee. Credit: biologycorner via Flickr.

PARCC stands for “Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.” According to a July 2013 Power Point, the test will be given in at least 20 states that have adopted Common Core standards, including Tennessee. Credit: biologycorner via Flickr.

Common Core detractors have raised concerns about data mining through new tests associated with the standards. Tennessee’s Department of Education is responding by promising to retain control of student information.

“I do not trust the federal government with almost any information at all,” state Sen. Stacy Campfield (R-Knoxville) said Friday at a two-day hearing on Common Core.

“Our biggest concern is the data,” state Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) said.

Roughly 20 states – including Tennessee – are moving to an achievement test known as PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness in College and Career). However, a handful have recently pulled out of the consortium – in large part – out of concerns about cost. But student privacy has also been a shared criticism. This summer Georgia followed Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Alabama.

Tennessee’s Department of Education is promising to “zealously” protect test data related to new Common Core standards.

“We will ensure that no personally identifiable student data that PARCC has as a result of giving assessments can go anywhere without our permission,” Commissioner Kevin Huffman told members of the Senate Education Committee.

But critics say there is no way to keep individual students from being identified because there is now so much information that could be matched up.

“In the era of big data, there is really no such thing as anonymization,” said Jane Robbins of the conservative American Principles Project.

Robbins contends the federal government sees students as “human capital” and not individuals. While U.S. Department of Education is precluded from maintaining a national database, Robbins says Common Core and the PARCC test will be just that.

“Progressives have wanted to do this for 100 years,” Robbins told Tennessee lawmakers. “Now they have the technology to do it.”

Some legislators have floated ideas of putting additional restrictions on what could be done with Tennessee student data.

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