Rhode Island Teacher May Lose Job Over Protecting Student Data

Photo credit: Michael Derr The future employment of Shelley McDonald, a math teacher at North Kingstown High School, remains undetermined. She is pictured with John Leidecker, NEA-RI deputy executive director, during a February hearing about alleged insubordination.
Photo credit: Michael Derr
The future employment of Shelley McDonald, a math teacher at North Kingstown High School, remains undetermined. She is pictured with John Leidecker, NEA-RI deputy executive director, during a February hearing about alleged insubordination.

Shelley McDonald, a math teacher at North Kingston High School in Rhode Island, may lose her job because she is unwilling to agree to terms given by Pearson before administering the PARCC Assessment. She said she does not believe that there is adequate protection of student privacy in the memorandum of understanding made with Pearson.

The Independent reports:

In March, Superintendent Phil Auger said Shelley McDonald’s job was safe if she would proctor the PARCC assessment May 3. She is scheduled to be terminated at the end of the school year after multiple alleged instances of insubordination, which included not administering the PARCC exam.

In a May 8 email, McDonald claimed she was not allowed to administer the most recent PARCC exams because she did not click a screen to “agree” to the terms before issuing the online standardized tests to students.

In an April 25 email, McDonald said she planned to administer the PARCC “just as [she had] in the past.” In the May email, she said she remains concerned that if she agreed to the terms of use, the company that owns the PARCC, Pearson, could sell personal student information.

“For whatever reason it remains very important to the district that I agree to the release and sale of student private information and data to third parties,” McDonald said. “If I won’t do that, [the School Department] will continue to not allow me to proctor the test and will continue to insist that I am not doing my job.”

Superintendent Phil Auger refuted McDonald’s allegation after the May 10 School Committee meeting, saying McDonald chose not to administer the PARCC.

“She just told us she’s not going to do it,” Auger said.

Auger also referred to a memorandum of agreement the School Committee and National Education Association North Kingstown agreed to in March, which agrees the School Committee will release to Pearson only the name of the school or local education agency; the use role (test administrator or coordinator); usernames created by the school or local education agency – such as a user’s email address; teachers’ full names and district email addresses.

McDonald said that understanding did not protect student data “in any way,” a claim Auger said was untrue.

“We’re not sharing anyone’s personal information, not kids’ or teachers’, with Pearson or anybody else … other than this student [name], this school and grade; that’s it,” he said. “The union accepted that and [McDonald] clearly did not. She said ‘I’m not doing it,’ which means you’re clearly not proctoring.”

In an interview, NEA-NK President Kevin DuBois said he and other union member teachers were concerned with Pearson possibly selling student and teacher data to third-party companies, but they reached the agreement with the district, and received confirmation from a state Department of Education representative that the state did not intend to share any student information other than the students’ gender and ethnicity.

“No personal info on where they live, Social Security numbers or anything like that [will be shared],” DuBois said.

Sharing a student’s name, school, grade, ethnicity and gender, along with their assessment results, isn’t sharing information? Fascinating.  The article alludes to multiple instances of insubordination, but it only directly refers to the PARCC assessments. Does the school seriously not have anyone else who can proctor the assessments?

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