iowa_deData collection has been an area of concern for those opposed to the Common Core State Standards (and others I’m sure).  One of the reasons why many are concerned is due to the stance that the U.S. Department of Education has taken on data collection and its seeming love affair with data.  The Department lists 400 data points that can be collected.  The produced a report in February entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century.”  Joy Pullmann of the Heartland Institute addressed that report back in March.

Then David Coleman, considered to be the chief architect of the Common Core ELA standards lauded the use of student data in a recent speech.  He then admitted in a conversation with Michael Farris of Home School Legal Defense Association that there is a centralized data collection effort desired through the implementation of the Common Core.

Bringing this down to the state level as to why people are concerned.  Iowa has a memorandum of understanding with Smarter Balanced (similar to this agreement).  Smarter Balanced has a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Education in which they state they will…

Comply with, and where applicable coordinate with the ED staff to fulfill, the program requirements established in the RTTA Notice Inviting Applications and the conditions on the grant award, as well as to this agreement, including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis for research, including for prospective linking, validity, and program improvement studies; subject to applicable privacy laws.

Here are the applicable program requirements:

Work with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that result from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis for research, including for prospective linking, validity, and program improvement studies.


Producing all student-level data in a manner consistent with an industry-recognized open-licensed interoperability standard that is approved by the Department during the grant period.

They do note that “Eligible applicants awarded a grant under this program must comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and 34 CFR Part 99, as well as State and local requirements regarding privacy.”  However the Obama administration relaxed the rules governing FERPA.  Now any local, state, or federal agency may designate any individual or organization as an “educational representative” who can access such data—as long as the agency says this access is necessary to study or evaluate a program. These can include school volunteers and companies.  Parents need not be notified.

Caffeinated Thoughts has obtained emails from a concerned citizen and the Iowa Department of Education related to data collection.   Staci Hupp, the communications director for the Department, replied to questions that were asked.  Below are jpegs of the emails:

Iowa-DOE email-1


Hupp told Caffeinated Thoughts that student level data is not given to the U.S. Department of Education or to Smarter Balanced, only aggregate level data is given to the U.S. DOE to fulfill legal requirements under No Child Left Behind.  Iowa is not slated to launch Smarter Balanced (depending on legislative approval) until the 2014-2015 school year.  The question critics ask is what specific information will be asked of students taking the assessment?

There has been no explanation as to what exactly Smarter Balanced is expected to provide to the U.S. Department of Education, what data that will include, and how they will obtain it.

The Iowa Department provided several documents outlining what student data is collected:

Student data field items collected includes: School/District number, state id, school building, first name, last name, birth date, grade level, race/ethnicity, gender, enrollment date, charter school, preschool attend indicator, title school status, luncy eligibility, IEP, early intervention service, section 504 (??), gifted/talented, migrant, immigrant, date enter USA, 21st century learning, homeless status, unaccompanied youth, homeless student served, home language, LEP (limited English proficient) status, LEP Assessment, date placed in LEP program, date LEP exited, LEP instruction, preschool program participation, KLA (kindergarten literacy assessment) instrument, KLA score 1, KLA score 2, KLA score 3, days enrolled, days present, days unexcused, resident district, resident county, residential facility, foster care, exit date, exit code, receiving educational services, destination code, destination location, enrollment status, test date, test level, test period, reading standard core, math standard core, reading proficiency, and math proficiency.

Here is the list of third parties that receive or share student data, for what purpose, and the type of data shared or received by the Iowa Department of Education:

  1. Pearson (Iowa Transcript Center): high school transcript information.
  2. Iowa Workforce Development (aggregate wage information for Iowa High School graduates): First, Middle, Last Name, Date of Birth, State ID, county of residence.
  3. Iowa Department of Human Services (School Lunch Eligibility): One way – DHS sends data to the DE to identify students eligible for food assistance.  Information is used to ensure students have free lunch available regardless of where they attend school.  Data includes first name, last name, date of birth, social security number.
  4. University of Minnesota (Iowa TIER data system): This system is in a pilot phase.  Districts participation is volunatry.  Data list is attached but will also include universal screening measures and progress.  (Here is the list of data collected.)
  5. Tri Tran (Collection of Iowa Alternate Assessment): Assessment results for 1 percent of students elgible to take the Iowa Assessments.  Collected by Tri Tran application and sent to the IDE.
  6. University of Iowa – Iowa Testing Programs (Administration and Scoring of the Iowa Assessments): One way – Iowa Testing Program provides data about students.
  7. American Insitutes of Research (Evaluate the effectiveness of the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program): Student assessment test scores, Student ID, attendance, IEP status, race/ethnicity.
  8. Iowa College Student Aid Commission (GEAR Up Program Evaluation): Student assessment data.
  9. eScholar (eScholar is the vendor for the Iowa State Id system.  While this system is housed on the State of Iowa complex there are occasions when the need access to this information in order to assist in troubleshooting a problem or assisting with an upgrade.): Student First, Middle, Last Name, Date of Birth, District, school, race/ethnicity, enrollment data.
  10. Iowa State University – RISE (Evaluate the effectiveness of the VREP – Virtual Reality Education Pathfinder): No Data Shared to date.  Will include Student ID, Course Enrollment data, assessment, District, school, race/ethnicity, enrollment data.
  11. SAS (Growth Report Prototype): See list of data shared here.

Also today, I have received several emails regarding the Iowa Department of Education requesting data regarding the military status of families.  Below is an email that the Ankeny Community School District sent:


Here is a screenshot of the survey:


Below is a screenshot of survey items parents can select from:


In response to my inquiry to the Department they shared the email sent to school superintendents by the Iowa Department of Education director, Dr. Brad Buck.

From: Buck, Brad [ED] Sent: Friday, September 27, 2013 1:28 PM
To: ED >LEA Superintendents
Subject: Military Children Education Coalition – Data Collection


Hello District Leaders,


We have had a couple of questions about this today, so I just wanted to drop you a note of supporting information.


The Department of Education (DE) has been working with a task force which includes the Governor’s office, Lt.Governor Reynolds and the Military Children Education Coalition (MCEC) which advocate for the expansion of data collection for students in military connected families.  As a member of this group, the DE decided to join in these efforts along with the Governor’s office support.  The intent is to provide information to schools to better support students whose parent(s) may be deployed or have been deployed. As a result, you are aware of the data collection that we are asking be done in tandem with these efforts.


It is also important to know that there are no ramifications for parent refusal to respond other than the ability for a school to know and offer support to this family in this area. The intent of the data collection is to support the children of our military families. My real hope is people understand the intent of the data and that they also know the results will ultimately be presented in aggregated formats.


Jay Pennington stands as a support on the data collection side from the DE.

I would also be happy to answer questions if that would be helpful.

My hope is that Friday is treating each of you well.




So parents can opt-out of participating with this survey.  Ankeny Community School District did not make it clear that this is a voluntary survey.

It should be noted that Military Child Education Coalition’s website lists the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as one of their coalition partners.  The Gates Foundation has been instrumental in funding the development and advancement of the Common Core State Standards.  They gave the Military Child Education Coalition in 2011 $149,965 to “to develop and execute an advocacy campaign in support of the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in multiple states by leveraging the voices and actions of its network of military families and uniform leadership.”

As of today this is the data that the Iowa Department of Education collects and shares.  This does not include information collected in the Iowa Youth Survey.

Update: Caffeinated Thoughts has obtained a copy of the questions asked by the Iowa Youth Survey.

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