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Classroom Dashboard Draws Questions From JeffCo Parents

Karen Leigh Reporting
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Jefferson County parents discuss the classroom dashboard (credit: CBS)

Jefferson County parents discuss the classroom dashboard (credit: CBS)

LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – The state’s largest school district is embarking on a pilot program that will bring together a wide variety of detailed student information into one database.

Officials with the Jefferson County School District call it innovative technology that will help teachers, but some district parents have questions about what data is being collected and how it’s being stored.

“What’s really important to the district is the classroom dashboard,” Jeffco Public Schools Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said.

The classroom dashboard feature would bring together test scores, grades, classroom comments, reading and math assessments and a wide variety of other information in one easy-to-use database. The technology is being developed by a nonprofit organization called inBloom.

“I’m a little concerned about it,” said Sheri Bezzant, a Jefferson County district mom.

Bezzant and several other parents told CBS4 they are concerned about the potential for cyber hacking with the system. InBloom can collect up to 400 points of data on a child and will store it in a data cloud.

“I don’t want all of my family’s personal history out there … you know, our race, our income, our religious affiliation, because none of that should affect what my kid is being taught at school,” said Stephanie Pollock, another concerned parent.

District officials see the classroom dashboard as an important tool for teachers.

“We began several years ago looking at how do we get better, more accurate, more quick information to our teachers so they can teach more effectively,” said Stevenson.

Stevenson said the district is going to limit the data on the dashboard to strictly academic information — no personal information, like Social Security numbers. She also says security meets the highest possible standards.

“In addition, we are doing an independent security audit to verify that to a greater extent,” Stevenson told CBS4.

The district hopes to start the pilot program next school year, and then extend it to every student in 2015. Concerned parents feel that’s too soon.

“I would like them to stop a minute because there are issues that have been raised by people who know what they’re talking about and we are not getting clear answers,” Bezzant said.

The Jefferson County School District is the only school district in the state that is signed up for the program at this time. Two school districts in Illinois plus the New York City Department of Education are also working with inBloom to implement the program. Schools in Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts and North Carolina have also worked with inBloom but have all backed away from the program to varying degrees.

- Written for CBSDenver.com by Special Projects Producer Libby Smith

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