All students deserve an enriching education, one that offers every opportunity for them to grow into healthy, knowledgeable and successful adults. But every student has a unique background and singular strengths and follows their own distinct path to adulthood and the world of college or career. This information can be a powerful tool to inform educators’ approaches to instruction and create opportunities for all students. Even so, educators, parents and other stakeholders have expressed concerns about student privacy and data security, especially as school districts and BOCES grapple with ransomware and hacking crises.
As with all data collection, it is critical that data privacy and security laws be followed to protect student data. The district superintendents of the 37 Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) in New York are working together on visioning work for a statewide K-12 student data system. They are leading the charge to find ways to improve how information is used in schools to help educators strengthen instructional practices and, at the same time, address privacy and security concerns.
To inform this effort, a series of seven listening sessions were held throughout New York state between Sept. 25 and Nov. 20, 2019, to gather feedback from stakeholders. Funding to support the logistics of holding these seven meetings (travel, hotel rental fees, food, etc.) was provided, in part, through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Additional financial and staff support was provided by Capital Region BOCES.
Organizers recommended that school districts and BOCES send a team to at least one of the events to learn more about the initiative, engage in the process and offer insight into how data can be used to create success for the students of New York. Stakeholders who are not part of a district team, or those involved with an educational advocacy or policy organization in New York, also were welcome to register and attend.
In addition, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) held a conversation with its Policy Council on Dec. 7, 2019, at the NYSUT headquarters in Albany, New York. Notes from this meeting were provided to the BOCES and are incorporated into the final report.
Three key themes, explained in detail in the final report (found here), rose to the surface across the series of meetings:
- Access to and meaningful use of the data is inconsistent and inequitable across districts and regions of the state;
- There is a lack of clarity about the purpose of various data points collected for local, state and federal reporting; and
- Many participants expressed the need for a central system or dashboard connecting existing systems.
Listening sessions were held on the following dates and locations:
- Southern Tier: Sept. 25, 2019 – DoubleTree Hotel/Binghamton, 225 Water St., Binghamton, New York, 13901
- North Country: Oct. 2, 2019 – Best Western University Inn, 90 E. Main St., Canton, New York 13617
- Syracuse: Oct. 10, 2019 – Holiday Inn Syracuse/Liverpool, 441 Electronics Parkway, Liverpool, New York 13088
- Capital Region: Oct. 30, 2019 – Red Lion Hotel Albany, 205 Wolf Road, Albany, New York 12205
- Long Island: Nov. 6, 2019 – Hilton Long Island/Huntington 598 Broadhollow Road, Melville, New York 11747
- Buffalo: Nov. 12, 2019 – Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, Transit Road/I-90 -6461 Transit Road, Buffalo, New York 14043
- Hudson Valley: Nov. 20, 2019 – Rye Hotel/Hilton Westchester, 699 Westchester Ave. Rye Brook, New York 10573
Stakeholders also were given the opportunity to offer input through a web-based survey and the Thoughtexchange platform.
The following materials are available as supplements to the Stakeholder Report available above:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Statewide Data System initiative? Why is BOCES leading this project? What data collection system is currently in place? Get the answers to these and other questions about this initiative.
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