ERIC Number: EJ900613
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Sep-15
Reference Count: N/A
Scholars Worry Conflicts over Data Could Hamstring Future Research
Sparks, Sarah D.
Education Week, v30 n3 p1, 16 Sep 2010
The recent high-profile data-confidentiality fights in Arizona and Los Angeles have researchers worried that access to educators may become a difficult path. In the course of a decadelong federal lawsuit over English-language-learner programs in Arizona, lawyers for state schools chief Tom Horne subpoenaed the raw data from three studies commissioned by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles. In gathering the data, researchers from the University of Arizona, collected comments on teachers' and administrators' experiences with the ELL programs and promised that the names of teachers, schools and districts would be kept confidential. Judge Raner C. Collins of the U.S. District Court in Tucson ruled on Aug. 19 that the names of schools and districts could be released, but not those of individual study participants. The second case is in California where a "Los Angeles Times" team released the actual teacher names in its study on the effectiveness of individual teachers based on their students' test scores, in a series of articles and a matching database. In both cases, the release of data thought to be confidential has sparked firestorms in the research community and with the public at large. However, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he is a strong advocate for transparency and if he had the power, he would make public not only data tying teachers to student performance but student-attendance data to "hold parents accountable." He believes that the truth is always hard to swallow, but it can only make someone better, stronger, and smarter. He advises that districts and teachers should work together to find an official way to release sensitive data, rather than having it released as the "Times" did.
Descriptors: Confidentiality, Researchers, Statistics, English (Second Language), Scholarship, Data, Higher Education, Federal Legislation, Teachers, School Districts
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arizona; California
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act 1974