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Commissioner’s Comments: Closing CDE’s Work with inBloom

Nov. 13, 2013

Note: At the Colorado State Board of Education's Nov. 13 meeting, Commissioner Robert Hammond announced the state department’s closure of its relationship with inBloom, a data management organization.  Below is the statement given by the Commissioner to the State Board of Education.

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.

The process of examining inBloom as a tool and resource prompted several beneficial lessons for CDE. First, the Board’s work session illuminated the need to improve the department’s privacy policies and to work with respected groups like EPIC to identify potential weaknesses in the state’s process for collecting and storing student information.   As a result, CDE has worked together with EPIC and others to re-write student privacy policy language and upgrade our data usage practices at the department.  In addition, it is our desire to have a statewide model policy that districts can use when and if they enter into such agreements with third parties such as inBloom.

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.

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