InBloom, a nonprofit that warehoused and managed student data for many public-school districts, is tapping out after being beaten to a pulp by data-privacy hawks. The mission of the organization, seeded by the Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation, was to help streamline how educators accessed student records—but the idea of children’s information being transferred to a third-party vendor caused some parents and schools to recoil and eventually led several states to pull out. The company has been a lightning rod for the mounting tension between the education software market and those concerned about student-data privacy. Now that inBloom is down for the count, what direction will data-driven learning take? Only time will tell.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has decided that, when determining eligibility to participate in sports at all Division I and Division II colleges and universities, it will not regard as valid the coursework completed by aspiring student athletes at twenty-four virtual charter schools managed by K12, Inc. (High-school students wanting to play big-league college sports must demonstrate that they meet the NCAA’s academic qualifications.) The NCAA stated that the courses were “out of compliance” with the organization’s requirements for nontraditional courses, leaving K12 huffing that those standards are “vague” and the NCAA’s review process “unclear.” While this is surely true, it’s also hard for the public to judge whether those K12 courses are legit or just “clicks for credits.” The online-learning field still hasn’t answered the many accountability and transparency questions that it must address. Perhaps this decision will spur it to do so.
A direct-mail survey conducted by the Black Alliance for Educational Options and the Louisiana Federation for Children found that support for Louisiana’s voucher program among participating parents is overwhelming: 91.9 percent were satisfied with their child’s current school, 98.7 percent said their child feels safe at their current school, and 97.6 percent said they and their child feel welcome. With all the legal drama around this program, it’s good to bear in mind that it’s helping families every day.