The new Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) is being used throughout the state this fall. The KEA is the beginning of an assessment tool called, NC K-3 Formative Assessment Process.  Teachers use this tool to evaluate a child’s performance until the end of  third grade.

The Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Early Learning does a good job of providing information on this new initiative in a “live binder” you can find online here.

Yesterday, I wrote  how the assessment is administered, and what little we know about the data collection. I explained how teachers download the “Evidence App,” so they can take pictures, videos and audio recordings of the child. Other methods of collecting “Evidence” include writing anecdotal and observation-based notes, collecting work samples and talking with families. Good teachers have always used these “other” methods. They just did not have to upload the information to an electronic platform and store the information off school grounds.  Also, there was never a P20W (Preschool, 20th grade higher education, Workforce) data system collecting information on the child until their 5th year in the workforce.

Parents may not keep their child from participating in this assessment process, but the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) acknowledges parents might feel uncomfortable with photos and videos.  The option for opting out is explained in the FAQ section of the live binder:

Q:  Do parents/family members have a choice regarding the use and storage of photographs and videos taken of their child to support the formative assessment process?  

A:  Some families have concerns regarding the use and storage of photographs and videos of their child(ren).  These concerns stem from anxiety about data security in a world where security breaches have become far too common.  While we have confirmed that Teaching Strategies has never had a security breach, and have communicated that information to families who have expressed concern, we recognize that parents may still choose not to have photographs and videos of their child collected and stored on the electronic platform. Parents certainly have this choice.

Districts already implement a process using some sort of Media Use and Release Permission Form by which parents indicate their preference regarding having their child’s photograph taken and used for any media purposes.  Districts do not need to create a separate form or process for the K-3 Formative Assessment process.  Rather, they can use their existing process to capture parent preferences on this matter.  However, it may be helpful for teachers to distinguish between photographs used for public purposes (e.g., school or class website) and those used for educational purposes and stored in a manner that complies with FERPA (eg., K-3 Formative Assessment Platform).  In either instance, parents may choose not to have photos/videos taken and stored if they wish.

A big problem is that parents have NO IDEA. They have no idea pictures, videos, and recordings could be made on their child, collected and stored online. Therefore, they have no idea they can opt-out.

Another problem is with the opt-out form. DPI tells districts to just use the current Media Use and Release Permission Form. What if a parent is perfectly fine with their child being photographed to use on a bulletin board, or in a PR piece for the school? However, the parent is NOT fine with photos, videos, and recordings being uploaded to a server somewhere off the school’s grounds. Two totally different situations, consequently two different forms are needed! If you would like an “opt-out” form that addresses this specific concern you will have to write one yourself.

You might be wondering why I am so interested in this topic. Yes, it has to do with education, and I am the Director of Education Outreach, for the John Locke Foundation. But more importantly, I am a grandmother to a rising kindergartener attending public school. This week I went with my daughter and presented an “opt-out” form to the principal. The principal was very cordial and did not realize the option was approved. After showing her the above information from DPI, she had no problem accepting my granddaughter’s form. If you are interested in seeing this “Mom made” form, click here.  My daughter went ahead and added the “Child Profile” too, because that also made her feel uncomfortable. Feel free to copy, use if you would like, or create your own.  You can opt-out, if you know!