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There will be a good student data privacy bill this year

New Hampshire has strong protections for student data already.  And the data management rules are the same for the Smarter Balanced test as they were for NECAP, so the Common Core and the Smarter Balanced test, in themselves, present no new risks. 

However, Rep. Neal Kurk (R-Weare), author of many of New Hampshire’s current data privacy protections, has submitted HB 1587 in response to changes in data management technology, new perceptions of the risks and evolving federal policy.  The bill addresses potential concerns about the Smarter Balanced test but goes beyond that as well.

In addition, Rep. Glenn Cordelli (R-Tuftonboro), member of the House Education Committee and sponsor of 3 anti-Common Core bills, has submitted a student data privacy bill (HB 1586) and Rep. JR Hoell (R-Dunbarton) has one as well.  These bills take a more torn-from-the-headlines view based on the concerns voiced by Common Core opponents (as Rep. Cordelli does here in testimony supporting suspension of the Smarter Balanced test)

Thursday’s hearing was on the Kurk bill, before a bad-weather version of the House Education Committee with six members present.  Consultant Mike Schwartz testified on behalf of the New Hampshire Department of Education.  Here is the written version of his testimony:

Chairperson Gile and committee members, thank you for the opportunity to discuss House Bills HB1586 and 1587.  For the record, I am Michael Schwartz, a consultant at the NH DOE.  I am speaking to you in my role at the department, but also as  a school board member of 9 years and a parent of two public school students.   Please know the department, as do I, takes the privacy and security of education data very seriously.  We certainly understand the concerns of parents and need to protect student information.  We follow both state and federal requirements to ensure privacy. Our state law protects students above and beyond what is required and/or allowed in FERPA.  FERPA is an important floor when considering data privacy, but it is just that a floor, not the ceiling, not the full scope of data protection.

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Extensive Portsmouth Herald article finds no risk to student data privacy. Stiles: “I’m not worried about the ‘big, bad wolf'”

Joey Cresta provided careful coverage of the bogus student privacy rights issue that Common Core opponents are riding as hard as they can. He brackets the fictitious claims by the Pioneer Institute, a free market advocacy group funded by the Koch brothers and the Walton Foundation,with accurate statements from his own knowledge of the issues and by Heather Gage of the NH Dept of Education and Senator Nancy Stiles.

My post, Student data privacy is not at risk, includes Heather Gage’s authoritative 11 pager that leaves no room for debate on the privacy issue.

Here’s a sample from the Herald:

There is no reason to fear for children’s privacy rights due to the implementation of the Common Core educational standards, a state education official said.

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