kitchen table math, the sequel: Student Names and Addresses

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Student Names and Addresses

Yesterday, my son had to fill out some sort of science survey that was supposed to collect data to find out how to get more kids to look towards careers in science. He is in 8th grade. It asked about what he wanted to do when he got out of school and even what colleges he was interested in. (What!?) I asked him a lot of questions, but that's the best understanding of the survey I could figure out. However, he had to include his name, address, telephone number, and email. He also said something about perhaps being sent some information. !!?? Is this normal; collecting personal information and sending it off to a third party without parental consent?


Anonymous said...

"It asked about what he wanted to do when he got out of school and even what colleges he was interested in. (What!?)"

Asking which colleges an 8th grader is interested in may not be odd. I can imagine that a lot of high-SES parents have indicated to their kids by this age which colleges are "acceptable."

If you ask my 9-year-old, he'll be able to tell you (his answer is UCSB if you ask him where he is going ... he'll have a broader answer if you ask him which colleges he is interest in).

Asking what the kids want to do when they are in 8th grade seems even more reasonable to me. A lot of kids track themselves out of STEM majors in high school. If the kid wants to pursue a STEM career and the school knows it, one could imagine some counselor pointing of if the courseload matched up with the desired career or not.

[Not that I expect this to happen, but that is because I am a cynic. These could be very reasonable questions with a highly constructive purpose...]

-Mark Roulo

Anonymous said...

I don't like the personal info stuff. They should be clear where it's going IMHO.


Redkudu said...

We get these all the time as teachers. They are usually sponsored by a particular college, and I think I've seen one from some branch of the military - you'll probably figure out who sponsored this one as soon as your son starts to get mail from them. I don't know if most teachers who give these to students just think it's harmless, or what.

I have never, and will never give these to my students. At my old school the kids were given a survey asking all about drug use, sex, etc. It wasn't from a college, but the data was collected by a third party - it wasn't directly for the district, but they made us give it out. I told the students they had the right to refuse. One of my students said other teachers were telling them to lie if they didn't want to give details about their lives. She was upset because "they are making me be a liar, and that's not something I want to be."

If I were a parent and found out my student was not allowed to bring this home to let the parents decide whether they want this establishment to have their info, I'd be pretty concerned. Actually, I think I'd be angry, and would probably let them know. An 8th grader is not always going to have the wherewithal to say no to something like this, and probably doesn't realize their parents might object.

Redkudu said...

BTW, I've never been offered an incentive of any sort to do these, so I don't know if that's a factor here.

Usually they come in a big bundle with a sort of authoritarian note that says something brief: "Have students complete these brief surveys and return them in the prepaid envelope." It may be teachers think these are coming from the district if they don't read carefully.

Cranberry said...

Doesn't that contradict the spirit, if not the letter, of confidentiality? "I'm sorry, we can't confirm a student's grades or address, but we'll force him to fill out a questionnaire for you on his fears and dreams?"

Mind you, I've refused to return questionnaires about our children's dental hygiene. I couldn't imagine any context in which it was the state's business.

SteveH said...

"If I were a parent and found out my student was not allowed to bring this home to let the parents decide whether they want this establishment to have their info, I'd be pretty concerned."

Thanks Redkudu. I was trying to see if I was missing something. (before I complain) My son said that they didn't say any thing about choice.

Other than the personal info, there is the issue that the information he gave them is not really good. If he brought the form home, we could have helped him fill it out so that it would be more helpful. Then again, he would not have returned it.

There is also the issue that names and addresses (+ other information) = money. Ogranizations pay big money for this data. If schools are not getting money for this data, then they are really stupid. If they are getting money for this data, but not telling kids (and parents) that they don't have to fill it out, that's unethical.

Overall, I find it odd. Schools proclaim that they want involved parents, but what do we get? I'm with Cranberry. I want to see and approve everything.

ChemProf said...

You should talk to him about these forms, as he's likely to see more of them. The PSAT collects some of this info, and sends it on to colleges. I can't tell you how much junk mail I got after I took that test.

You would think that with all the concerns about privacy and identity theft that schools would be more careful, but they aren't.

We would have been absolutely livid if this had happened to our kid.

Catherine Johnson said...

I don't think C. has ever been asked to fill out such a form.

On the other hand, public schools in New York state are now required to submit students' weight (or BMI) to the state.

Which I find infuriating, especially since Irvington hires tenured teachers to report data to the state.

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