As with every initiative that seeks to create new data (especially student data), we, as a society, must ask some probing questions:
- If it is true that the larger the data system (and thus, the more valuable the data), the more likely that a breach will occur, will the positives that come from establishing a large education-workforce data exchange exceed the potential harms that students (and workers) might face?
- The guide states strong data privacy and security looks like, “A trusted repository of data that can be shared but does not compromise privacy may be in place.” How will these data repositories earn the trust of parents, teachers, and critics? (See inBloom, for example.)
- The guide frequently discusses the use of aggregate data (7 times). Yet, the guide also recognizes that some data points may be more sensitive. “Definitions recognize that although all student data may be considered sensitive, some pieces of data may be considered more sensitive (e.g., special education status) than other pieces of data (e.g., aggregate graduation rates available to the general public). If the goal of aggregating data is to enhance privacy, does including the more sensitive data points work again this enhanced privacy? Must all subgroups be tracked for such a data system to produce useful conclusions?
- What about opt in/out options? If they exist, will allowing large numbers of people to opt out effect the integrity of any conclusions?