Correcting the Record: Common Core State Standards DO NOT Subject Students to Mass Data Collection

A Washington Post article describing increased collection of children’s personal data suggests education technology companies are using the Common Core to collect and sell student data.

“This data is used for marketing purposes, to help target ad dollars toward the next generation of consumers,” the article claims. It cites a report by the National Center for Education Policy, which calls for greater insight into data collection protocols and the requirements of parental consent.

Contrary to opponents’ claims that the Common Core jeopardizes students’ personal information, the standards say nothing of states’ data collection policies. In fact, if a state were to repeal the Common Core tomorrow, it would experience no changes to its data collection processes.

Such allegations conflate the Common Core with student assessments. But Common Core State Standards are not a test. They are a set of learning goals that outline what students should reasonably know and be able to do at each grade level. Every state has education standards they use to guide curricula and classroom instruction.

Testing policy, including what student data states collect and how they collect it, is determined by state and local officials—regardless of whether that state uses the Common Core or another set of academic expectations.

Nationwide, many states are shifting away from Scantrons and no. 2 pencils and instead using responsive computer-based assessments. This includes states that don’t use the Common Core State Standards. This shift allows states to process students’ scores more quickly and provide useful information back to teachers and parents about how their students are doing and where they might be struggling.

“I encourage parents to read [the Common Core State Standards]. They will find no mention of data-collection mandates,” Rob McKenna, former attorney general for Washington State, wrote last year. “That’s because, in reality, Common Core has no impact on how states and schools collect and use student data…What’s more, four federal laws prohibit the creation of a federal database with students’ personally identifiable information.”