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S/O News: For sale: survey data on millions of high school students

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From SFGate https://www.sfgate.com/business/article/For-sale-survey-data-on-millions-of-high-school-13117729.php

“In May, the Department of Education issued “significant guidance” that recommended that public schools make clearer to students and their parents that surveys with the SAT and the ACT, a separate college admissions exam, are optional. The notice emphasized that pretest surveys could provide opportunities for families to learn about college choices. But it also reminded schools that parents had the right to inspect all surveys in advance. Parents also have the right to opt their children out of any school-required surveys that touch on sensitive topics like religion, family income or politics.

The new federal guidance could give school districts and state education agencies “leverage to push the College Board and the ACT to either eliminate the voluntary survey when it’s being given in a school,” said Amelia Vance, director of education privacy at the Future of Privacy Forum, an industry-funded think tank, “or take out any questions that would be considered sensitive in a particular state.”

...

More than 3 million students who graduated in 2018 took surveys with the ACT, the SAT or the PSAT, which is a college scholarship test given to high school juniors. The College Board charges educational institutions 43 cents per student name. Starting in September, the ACT will charge 45 cents per name.

As marketing materials on the ACT site put it: Purchasing the names of “racial and ethnic minorities is a great way to increase diversity at your campus.” Other survey services, however, sell students’ personal information far beyond colleges.

Scholarships.com, for instance, asks students for their name, birth date, race, religion, home address and citizenship status and whether they have “impairments” like HIV, depression or a “relative w/Alzheimer’s.” Scholarships.com also has a subsidiary, American Student Marketing, that describes itself as the “exclusive broker” of the student data collected by Scholarships.com, offering it to marketers of student loans, credit cards and smartphones.

...

Paul Weeks, ACT’s senior vice president for client relations, said his organization allowed only colleges, universities and scholarship organizations to use its database, which includes details like students’ family income, religious affiliation and test score range. ACT also prohibits clients from sharing students’ data with third parties, he said.

...

But the College Board allows universities to share students’ data with certain educational partners, said Zach Goldberg, a spokesman for the College Board. And one of those universities disclosed students’ survey data to the for-profit National Leadership Academies.”

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Thank-you for posting that.  We were just talking about this last night.  Oldest is getting ready to take either the ACT or SAT (we can't decide which).  We are not happy about the ACT disclosing personal information to colleges, either...well, and the "let's just cancel your score if you improve too much" thing that's happening.  I would rather not take either test, but the college dd16 wants to go to requires one.

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