Education Commissioner Robert Hammond told the State Board of Education Wednesday this his department has ended its contract with inBloom, the controversial student data system that was being pilot tested in the Jefferson County Schools.
“As a result of Jefferson County School district’s decision to withdraw from inBloom and recognizing the concerns being expressed, I have made the decision that in the best interests of the department we exercise our right to terminate the Service Agreement with inBloom,” Hammond told the board.
The $100 million inBloom project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corp., has been attempting to build a data system that can aggregate student personal and academic information and link such data with online instructional materials that teachers can use to personalize teaching for individual student needs.
But there have been widespread criticism of inBloom’s ability to protect student privacy, and such concerns were believed to be part of the reason that a Republican-endorsed slate of three candidates swept to victory in last week’s Jeffco school board election. The board voted last Thursday to end its relationship with inBloom.
Get more background on the inBloom controversy is this EdNews story about a State Board hearing earlier this year.
Here’s the full text of Hammond’s statement:
This past week, the Jefferson County School Board decided, after many public discussions and work sessions, to conclude its relationship with the data management organization, inBloom. The vision for use of inBloom’s system was to give teachers better tools for understanding their individual students’ academic needs. Using these tools, teachers would have been able to more easily support their students’ needs by helping them learn at their own pace and truly master a concept before moving forward. In my opinion, this continues to be an important goal in educating our students for the 21st century. Unfortunately, concerns and questions persisted in Jefferson County that led to their decision to withdraw from inBloom.
As you’ll recall, Jefferson County was Colorado’s only pilot district in exploring the use of inBloom to manage student data. As a result of Jefferson County School district’s decision to withdraw from inBloom and recognizing the concerns being expressed, I have made the decision that in the best interests of the department we exercise our right to terminate the Service Agreement with inBloom. I have already notified inBloom of this decision and will be following through in writing. I can assure the State Board this project was entered into with a belief that such a system would ultimately benefit students. I still believe such. However, given the heavy implementation work the department is doing, this pilot project is not a priority for the department. CDE will now be working with inBloom to close out the work pursuant to the Service Agreement.
In closing, I do want to recognize the hard work of Jefferson County district staff, CDE staff as well as inBloom staff. Despite the termination of the Service Agreement, many lessons were learned that will guide us in the future.