INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana’s plans to create a database filled with every state student’s
achievement test scores, college degrees and job histories is raising
concerns from some parents and privacy experts, who fear the data could be
stolen or misused.
A law passed in
March calls for the Indiana Network of Knowledge, or INK, to track students
from elementary school through college and into the workforce. The database
will allow state officials to identify job and education trends so they can
tailor the education system to better meet employers’ needs and help close
the skills gap.
Rep. Steve Braun,
R-Zionsville, the bill’s author, said many states are developing databases
that show how students are performing and using that information to assess
how well the education system is doing.
“But there’s nobody
currently that is looking at the future job market effectively and using
that to inform the education system,” he told The Indianapolis Star. “That
is obviously the greatest value in terms of closing the skills gap because
it really aligns the education system with the job market.”
The database will
link information from the Department of Education, Commission for Higher
Education and the Department of Workforce Development. Officials also will
try to persuade employers to share job and salary histories.
State officials say
great care will be taken to remove student names and other identifying
information. INK will develop a data security and safeguarding plan, as well
as procedures for protecting the data in case of a breach.
“There is nothing
that doesn’t meet the code, standard, the law and the expectation of
privacy,” said Teresa Lubbers, Indiana’s higher education commissioner.
Still, some privacy
experts and parents question how well the data will be protected.
Fred H. Cate,
director of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research at the IU Mauer
School of Law in Bloomington, said he worries that the database could be
used for unadvertised purposes. Those could include tracking down students
with unpaid loans or those who might be involved in terrorist activities.
“One of the first
places the FBI turned after 9/11 (terrorist attacks) was to universities,”
co-founder of Hoosiers Against Common Core, is also concerned.
“The fear that
people have is that it (data) will be shared and sold,” Tuttle said. “A lot
of people don’t want their data out there because of all the violations and
all the ways that it can be manipulated. Those things get hacked all the
“It really is one
of those Pandora’s boxes.”
special assistant for career innovation to Gov. Mike Pence, said the
concerns are unfounded. State and federal privacy laws protect the data, and
the new law includes a system of checks and balances to control and monitor
the use of the data. “The data is not for sale,” Dowd said.
Supporters say the
long-term benefits make the system worth it.
“It will allow us
to see trends, to see where Hoosiers go after school,” said David Galvin,
spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education. “It will help with
budgeting and directing course work. And it will show our strengths and
weaknesses and where the state can focus its resources to help Hoosiers get
the jobs they need to improve their quality of life.”