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House votes to protect Iowa’s education standards, student data

Published: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 11:30 a.m. CDT

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The House this week passed a bill with unanimous bipartisan support to address some of the controversy surrounding the Iowa Core and Common Core State Standards. The bill provides greater transparency and opportunities for public input on the state’s education standards, prevents standards from being implemented without the legislature first seeing the proposed changes, reiterates local control of text books and curriculum, and provides greater protection of student data. The bill passed 96-0 and has gone over to the Senate for further consideration.

Background

The Common Core, a set of education standards developed at the national level, has garnered significant interest across the country over the past year. The topic is often controversial, with concerns about nationalization of education, the privacy of student data, the cost of related assessments, and other issues are getting discussed around the country.

Iowa is certainly not immune to the discussion either. Iowa adopted the Common Core into the state’s set of education standards, the Iowa Core, in 2010. It has joined 44 other states in adopting them (Minnesota makes 45, but only adopted part of the standards). But, a number of states have put the brakes on implementation.

HF 2439 - Iowa Core Technical Clean-up, Public Input, and Student Data Privacy

For the standards themselves, the bill requires that the Department of Education and the State Board of Education solicit public input and suggestions to revise or amend. There is to be at least three public meetings across the state and input will be collected through the Department’s website. The goal will be to identify any opportunities to strengthen the standards with input from Iowans.

Additionally, any future changes to the Iowa Core standards cannot be implemented until the proposed changes are brought before the legislature while the legislature is in session.

The bill also reiterates that any curriculum, lesson plans, instructional methods and text books are chosen at the local level and not chosen by the state or federal government, nor prescribed by the Iowa Core standards.

Finally, the bill provides additional protections for student data collected by districts and the state Department of Education. The Department is to establish data collection, privacy, and sharing policies for student; inventory and report what student data are collected and the data’s purposes; and create a detailed data security plan that includes privacy compliance standards, a data breach plan, data retention/destruction plans, and guidelines for authorizing parental access to student data.

The bill prevents the state from including biometric, health, criminal/juvenile justice records, family voting or political information, religious information in student data files. Student data is prohibited from being shared outside the state except under certain circumstances where sharing is necessary to conduct the business of the Department of Education in carrying out its duties. The department must use only aggregate data in public reports.

Lastly, for transparency, the Department must report annually to the legislature about student data collected; changes to existing data collections required for any reason, including changes to Federal reporting requirements made by the U.S. Department of Education; and get legislative approval for any new data collection not required by the federal government and develop a detailed security plan.

The bill, in the end, largely mirrors Governor Branstad’s Executive Order 83 issued last fall. The passage of this bill sends a strong message that the Governor and the House are committed to maintaining control of our standards and student data, not allowing the federal government to interfere with Iowa’s intentions.

Please join me at one of my March legislative forums.

Friday March 28th:

• 8:00 a.m. – Wayne County Farm Bureau (Corydon, IA)

• 10:00 a.m. – Chariton Mosaic (Chariton, IA)

• 12:00 p.m. – Lakeside Casino (Osceola, IA)

• 2:30 p.m. – Lamoni Community Center (Lamoni, IA)

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